Saroo Brierley is an Indian-born Australian author and businessman known for his harrowing story of reuniting after 25 years with his biological mother, with whom he had been accidentally separated at age 5. Brierley’s story was adapted into the Oscar-nominated 2016 film, Lion.
Brierley was born in Madhya Pradesh, India, to a poor single mother who worked in construction to support herself and her three children. As a child, Saroo and his older brothers began begging at the railway station for food and money. When he was five, Saroo got stuck on a train bound for Calcutta, 930 miles from his hometown, and on the same night, he later found out, his brother Guddu was killed by an oncoming train. Saroo tried to return home, but every train returned him back to the same station, and he ended up homeless on the streets of Calcutta. Saroo eventually met a teenager who brought him to a police station where he was reported as a lost child. He was transferred to the Indian Society for Sponsorship and Adoption, where the staff attempted to find his family with no success. Saroo was then adopted by the Brierley family of Tasmania, Australia.
Saroo was raised in Hobart, Tasmania, alongside another Indian boy his Australian parents had adopted, Mantosh. He went on to study business and hospitality at the Australian International Hotel School. As an adult, Saroo spent months searching satellite images on Google Earth trying to trace railway lines back from Calcutta to his hometown, of which he only retained vague memories. One night in 2011, he found a railway station in Burhanpur which matched his childhood recollection, and followed the images to the town of Khandwa, where he recognized a fountain where he used to play. In 2012, Saroo travelled to Khandwa, and after asking residents if they knew of a family who had lost their son 25 years ago, was led to his mother and reunited with his remaining siblings. The reunion was widely publicized in India and throughout the world.
In 2013, Saroo published his memoir, A Long Way Home, chronicling his life story and search for his Indian family. The book was adapted into the highly acclaimed 2016 film, Lion, starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara. Lion was nominated for six Academy Awards.
Brierley’s story has touched and inspired millions, and he is regularly booked for speaking events and corporate entertainment events.