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Home TV MAN WHO INSPIRED THE FILM “LION” TALKS ABOUT THE MENTAL MAP THAT...

MAN WHO INSPIRED THE FILM “LION” TALKS ABOUT THE MENTAL MAP THAT ENABLED HIM TO TRACK DOWN THE MOTHER HE LOST WHEN HE WAS 5 YEARS OLD, ON “60 MINUTES”

sarooDec. 9, 2016 

In His First U.S. TV Interview, Saroo Brierley Tells the Story Critics Say Has Oscar Potential 

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The incredible lost-and-found story of Saroo Brierley has inspired the new Hollywood film “Lion” – a movie critics are saying has Oscar potential. But the real events are just as thrilling as the drama on screen. Brierley says he was separated from his birth mother when he was 5 years old and locked on a train that took him 1,000 miles across India to Calcutta. Once there, he says he survived by himself on the city’s chaotic streets for weeks until he wound up in an orphanage and was adopted by an Australian couple. For the first time on American television, Brierley explains how he found his way back to his Indian village using Google Earth and a mental map of home. He speaks to Bill Whitaker on the next edition of 60 MINUTES on Sunday, Dec. 11(7:00-8:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.  Watch an excerpt.

Brierley says the images were seared into his memory: a train station with a walkway over the tracks, a water tower and a dam on a nearby river where he played. He attributes his remarkable recall to the circumstances of his impoverished childhood. “I reckon what it is, is that I never went to school, so language wasn’t really in me…it was all visual. My visual senses were extremely heightened,” Brierley says.

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As a young child, Brierley lived in one of India’s lowest castes, and along with his beloved oldest brother, he would go to the local train station to beg for food and scrounge for coins. They were out scavenging late one night when Brierley grew tired. He fell asleep on an idle train at the station. When he woke up, the train was moving, and he was trapped. Brierley estimates he was stuck inside for more than a day before he reached Calcutta’s main station. “The first thing…I am contending against is a river of people…I was panicking…I am calling out for my brother, my sister, my mother,” recalls Brierley.

He didn’t know his address or the name of his hometown. He didn’t speak the language in Calcutta. He was afraid to ask for help. He says he spent a few weeks on the streets until he made it to the orphanage which arranged for his adoption. He thrived in Australia and loved his new mom and dad, but memories of India and his birth mother persisted. “Those memories came alive when I went to sleep,” he tells Whitaker. “I was holding onto those memories, never to let go.”

As Brierley grew up, he often looked at the map of India on his wall, fruitlessly searching for home.  Then, in his late 20s, he discovered Google Earth and its bird’s eye view of the world. He figured he could find home if he could just match his memories with what he saw on his computer screen. It took years of searching, but he finally found the train station where his odyssey began. He went back and found his mother, still living in the same village his siblings had left. He tells Whitaker why she never left. “Because she felt that one day the son that she had lost would come back.”

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and Entertainment Critic at TheHollywoodTimes.today, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board and tour coordinator of the Television Critics Association’s press tours. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and DAP Health, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been a member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.