Saroo is a five-year-old who helps his older brother get his family by, stealing milk and coal from trains. But one night he falls asleep on an empty train and wakes in Calcutta, 1500 kilometres from home, with no idea of how he might find a way back. After various misadventures he is taken to an orphanage, from where he is adopted by an Australian family. This first half of the film has a Dickensian power, dark but shot through with humorous shafts, as we see this grim world through a child's eyes. In the second half, we are shown a grown up Saroo who, despite his loyalty to the Australian cricket-team, suddenly wakes to his original identity and the call of home and family. It leads to an implied breakdown, and a lengthy search before he is able to trace his village and his natural mother and the characters find what we like to call closure. On the way he rediscovers his bond with his adoptive parents, who meet with his birth mother.
So it is a warm and fuzzy ending (although we learn that Saroo's brother died in a train accident on the very night he was lost), and we can file out of Ashburton Arts happily, even the slightly cynical. For the first-time director Garth Davis it's an accomplishment, never using more words than it needs and leaving the pictures to tell the story when they can. Convincing performances from an Indian and Australian cast too.
With the credits we are shown photographs of the real life protagonists, and we are led to conclude that in this tale at least there was enough love and gratitude to go round. As there often is, given half a chance.