Dev Patel may have wangled an Oscar nomination for playing Saroo in Garth Davies’ Lion, the boy who strayed thousands of miles away from his home in Kolkata and was adopted by an Australian couple in Australia.
But it’s the 8-year old Sunny Pawar who plays the young Saroo who has stolen the show. Sunny, the son of a sweeper from Pune, is the darling of the American press. The little boy was in the US giving interviews on globally viewed talk-shows with the best-known interviewers, with a translator in tow since Sunny can’t speak in English.
But that’s being taken care of.
“I now go to school in Mumbai,a really good school,” he tells me with pride in a clear strong voice belying his tender years. “I enjoy school and my new friends.But I miss my old friends.”
And his new life? “Acha lagta hai,” the boy says with detached pleasure. “In America I did a lot of fun things. Like shopping—I bought clothes and makeup for my mother and sister and teeshirts for my brother and myself—and eating chocolates.”
What about the sudden stardom? How does Sunny react to all the praise in the international press. “I like it. They(the Americans) loved me a lot and were very nice to me. I enjoyed my one-month stay in America. Now I am going again for the Oscars.”
Sunny enjoys dressing up , getting into a suit for the Golden Globe and the forthcoming Oscars. But there is one other thing that he enjoys even more. “I like running up and down the red carpet. It’s fun to be at these things, though I don’t know anyone besides Dev Patel.”
Sunny didn’t know Nicole Kidman when he met her. “I was told by Garth(director Garth Davis) that she was going to be my mother. She was very nice to me. They all looked after me. I did miss home when I was shooting. But they were always giving me lots of attention and love.”
About getting into role of the little boy who wanders thousands of miles away from home on a train, Sunny says, “I was told about the boy who got lost. His mother and family were left behind.I felt very bad for the boy. I cried for him thinking what it would be like if I got lost and was separated from my mother.”
While travelling to Australia to shoot for Lion and to the US for the Golden Globe,little Sunny was accompanied by his father Dilip Pawar who has now become his son’s full-time manager.
“I’ve already completed a second film(Tabrez Noorani’s Love Soniya). And yes I’ve decided I want to be an actor when I grow up. But I also want to study side-by-side. I came to this interview after school,” says Sunny.
His favourite actor. “Singham, Devgan,” comes the prominent reply.
Not Salman Khan? “No, Ajay Devgan.”