The ‘Lion’ star playing the younger stages of Dev Patel, is now Hollywood’s darling. Hailing from the slums of Mumbai he shone brightly during the 89th Academy Awards night with all the superstars of Hollywood pampering and congratulating the kid for his role in ‘Lion’. The seven-year-old was selected from 2,000 children across schools in India to play the role of the young Saroo Brierley.
A Class 3 student of the Air India Model School, Sunny and his younger brother and sister, live with parents Dilip Pawar, a former government office sweeper, and home-maker mother Vasu, in a slum in Kalina in the western suburbs, near the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai.
Though he came from a humble background, with no training in acting, he tore his way through the auditioning at Mumbai and Pune, pushing behind all the other children selected to land right into Hollywood.
Sunny was selected from around 2,000 talented children in a hunt in schools all over India, culminating in the final auditions held in Mumbai and Pune some one-and-half year ago. He fitted the role perfectlyA source to news agency
Sunny is cast in the role of a young Saroo Brierley, who was stranded in a train which catapulted him hundreds of kms away from home to over crowded city of Kolkata. There, he ekes out an existence on the footpaths, before a young Australian couple adopts him. The elder version of Saroo was played by Dev Patel in the film. The actor even thanked child star Sunny, saying “He’s a really beautiful little soul and I’m grateful to him.”
Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the awards ceremony walked down to where Sunny was sitting to talk to him strangely about the editing quality of ‘Hacksaw Ridge’. A baffled Sunny kept his answers short and most of them were ‘yes’.
The child star lit up when Kimmel asked him whether he had seen “Lion King”. The host then lifted Sunny up to recreate the signature anointment movement from the hit animated film. Kimmel, who had parachuted candies for the Hollywood audience, had them flying down from the ceiling again, especially for Sunny.
Though the kid could barely speak English, his charismatic presence and smile filled in for the short communicative skills.
“Film director, Garth Davis had to put in a lot of efforts with Sunny during the shooting in India and Australia. For instance, he used sign language to make Sunny understand the dialogues, enact the sad or emotional scenes,” said the source.
The first half of the film, mostly hogged by the little Sunny, is in Hindi and he delivered the dialogues with ease and finesse.
His shooting schedules spanned over three months in Kolkata and Madhya Pradesh in India, and Melbourne, Tasmania in Australia and he was accorded ordinary treatment as his role was very emotional and was required to keep that demeanour.
But, he chilled out a lot with his on-screen mother, Nicole Kidman, who he also taught to play cricket, and with his on-screen father, David Wenham. Some of those scenes finally figured even in the released film. At the shootings, Sunny was accompanied by his father and translator Rahul to interact with the production team and others.