It was a coincidence that Australian filmmaker Garth Davis found inspiration in a newspaper article to make Lion, a film that brought him to India, a country that 'feels like home'.
"I wish I could be more of a tourist, but I have explored India like a local. Of course, the story of Lion connected me with the place, but prior too, I was connected to Indian literature," said Garth Davis, when we met him at a Juhu hotel. The director of the Oscar-nominated film, Lion, which tells the story of an Indian orphan, is currently in Mumbai to promote the project. He adds, "Arundhati Roy’s God Of Small Things is my favourite novel. Once I land in India, I feel a sense of kinship."
The Australian filmmaker, who has struck gold with his maiden feature, says that a newspaper article about Saroo Brierley (Indian-born Australian businessman, who was separated from his birth mother and adopted by an Australian couple) finding his mother two decades after separation was his inspiration. "The story was magical. It traversed two different worlds. Its matriarchal quality was the foremost reason why we made the film."
Dev Patel, who is nominated for Best Actor and plays Saroo in the film, had told hitlist last week that he barged into Garth’s office to audition for Lion. “I never thought he could be Saroo. I just saw him share the passion for the story.” But, some say, what added value to Lion was casting Nicole Kidman. "When I was spending time with Saroo’s foster mother, Sue, I couldn’t think of anyone better than Nicole. She understood Sue with such depth,” he says. Nicole is also someone Davis has been linked with. Reports suggest her husband is upset with Garth. Davis slams media gossip, saying, “It’s stupid that when we were shooting, tabloids wrote about Nicole being pregnant. I’d meet her on set and wonder, where’s the bump? There isn’t an ounce of truth [in the reports]. I find it disgusting. It was upsetting because my children had a talk with me about the reports."
With Oscar nominations in six categories, one would expect Garth to be nervous. “I don’t let pressure get to me. I take pride in the film we have made, and now it’s in the lap of the Gods to decide what it deserves. When the Golden Globes were announced and we didn’t win, there was a little disappointment. But awards can eat you up, making you too concerned about wins and losses. I’ve made the best film I can. At the Oscars, the odds are against us.
If it happens ¬[winning the Oscar], I’ll be surprised."