The 8-year-old Sunny Pawar was originally unable to attend the US premiere because he was denied a visa. Producers of the film made an appeal to Homeland Security, after which Pawar and his father were allowed to come to the US.
To internalize her character, Priyanka Bose went to Madhya Pradesh to meet Kamla Munshi, the mother her character was based on; "My questions were basic and just by meeting her, I could tell how hard her life has been. I got down on my knees and hugged her and thanked her for her courage". When meeting Munshi she was told that she was declared crazy by many villagers in the small town for years, as she never gave up hope that her son would return one day.
Dev Patel had to develop a new physique to portray Saroo and attended several hours in the gym in order inhabit his part. He also grew a beard and developed an Australian accent (with Tasmanian dialect), visited Saroo Brierley's orphanage in India and wrote a diary while he took the original train ride that Brierley accidentally took as a young child. In total, he spent eight months preparing for the role.
Google helped the production and gave the crew access to their satellite imagery to use in the film, providing them with versions of Google Earth from the correct time period, and providing a lot of technical support in order to shoot scenes featuring google in-camera, which saved the production a VFX budget.
Sunny Pawar's film debut. He didn't speak English when filming began and bonded with Nicole Kidman, his on-screen mother, by playing cricket with her - scenes which eventually made it into the film.
Rooney Mara's character is not based on a single real-life character, but is a combination of several of Saroo's real-life girlfriends who were with him through his search.
At the Australian box office, it had the biggest ever opening weekend for an Australian independent film. Among all Australian films, it had the fifth highest opening of all time.
Dev Patel's initial audition lasted six hours. There were concerns among the producers that he was too obvious a choice for a lead role with Indian heritage. This has also previously prevented Patel from possible roles, as he was refused an audition for "Life of Pi" and other parts.
The film was developed by Australian producers Andrew Fraser and Shahen Mekertichian. They stubbornly refused to change the Australian setting of the film to America and hereby received several rejections from American film production companies. By the time of release, the two producers will have spend four years on the film.
Nicole Kidman was handpicked by the real-life Sue Brierley for her part. Brierley suggested Kidman from the very first time the film adaptation was suggested to her and actually met with Kidman at her Sydney apartment to discuss the role. Both women forged a close bond in the course of their conversation after discovering that they were both deeply maternal and loved their adoptive and biological children in equal measures.
4000 boys were auditioned to play the young Saroo Brierly, according to line producer Pravesh Sahni.
In India, over 80,000 children go missing each year and there are over 11 million children living on the streets. For the release of this film, the foundation #LionHeart was launched in collaboration between the production companies of this film, See-Saw Films and The Weinstein Company (TWC) and The Charity Network. It will provide financial support to the over 11 million children who live on the streets of India.
Garth Davis decided to unfurl the story in as linear a way as possible, avoiding flashbacks, even though it would feature very little dialogue in the first half of the film. WALL·E (2008) served as an inspiration for the director when he created the first half of the film. Later, when he discovered Sunny Pawar he felt the young actor was reminiscent of Charles Chaplin in his physicality and Davis knew he would be able to tell the first part of the story with as little dialogue as possible.
Rooney Mara originally aimed to take a short break, when Garth Davis offered her the script and made her change her mind: "I read it and it was small part but I thought the script was just so powerful, moving and beautiful that I was like 'This is really supposed to be my time off but I want to talk to this guy.' And within talking to him for two minutes, I knew I was going to work with him."
Based on Saroo Brierley's memoir "A Long Way Home", the true story of his own search for his childhood home. The film was originally set to feature the same title as the book on which it is based.
Director Garth Davis would make Dev Patel act out some scenes as an animal, which, after initial reservations, made Patel overcome a lot of nervous energy.
Partly filmed in Hobart, Tasmania, a rare location for film sets. With a crew of over 300 people and international funding, this film marks the biggest film production to take place on the Australian island. It's set to be released the same year as The Light Between Oceans (2016), partly filmed in Tasmania as well.
In order to insinuate memories from India while filming in Australia, Garth Davis would play Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar recordings of naturals sounds from the set in India, serve them food and display authentic Indian objects from the former filming locations.
Saroo Brierley's story has also been the subject of a "60 Minutes Special" and a Google Ad, promoting the Google Earth feature.
Howrah Bridge was shut down by the crew in order to film a single scene. The bridge marks the highly-trafficked main artery between the east and west side of West Bengal, India, and this was the first time the bridge had ever been closed to public.
The real-life Brierley family was invited on set and visited the production that took place in Tasmania.
During rehearsals, Garth Davis made Dev Patel and Rooney Mara bond through creative exercises. The first was to draw a portrait of the co-star and to outline how they saw each other.
This is Nicole Kidman's first on-screen role as a mother of two adopted children. In real life she's the mother of two adopted children.
Priyanka Bose was cast as Kamla because Garth Davis felt she and Kidman shared a similar energy. Bose was admittedly very flattered by this comparison.
Despite playing the lead character, Dev Patel was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards. This is because he does not appear until nearly an Hour into the film, and the studio felt he might have a better chance of getting nominated in the Supporting category. Nonetheless, some still felt that the decision was category fraud.
The Weinstein Company picked up the distribution rights to Dev Patel's next feature Hotel Mumbai (2018), because producer Harvey Weinstein appreciated working with Patel on this film.
The real Sue Brierley was quite happy with the overall adaptation of her life except for the frumpish demeanor applied to Nicole Kidman's portrayal of her. Brierley was somewhat disappointed that none of the available clothing items she and Saroo actually wore were ever used in the production.
Sunny Pawar and Abhishek Bharate, who portray brothers in this film, were later both cast in Love Sonia (2018).
The movie was announced April 2013 and filming was originally set to begin in August 2014. However, it was postponed until January 2015. All scenes taking place in India were shot first, and the few scenes set in Australia, featuring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman were shot in April 2015.
Nicole Kidman and David Wenham previously co-starred in Australia (2008), in which they portrayed each other's nemesis. In this they portray each other's spouse.
The real-life Saroo Brierley and his adoptive mother, Sue Brierley, spoke and answered questions after New York City pre-release screenings.
In May 2014, The Weinstein Company sealed a $12 million deal for worldwide distribution of the film, before any cast was attached to the project.
Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance at the US premiere of the film. It was one of his first public appearances after his wife Hillary Clinton lost the US election a week prior.
Rooney Mara, director Garth Davis and producer Harvey Weinstein would all three reunite to make Mary Magdalene (2018) following their collaboration on this film.
The A.R. Rahman song "Urvasi" from the movie Kadhalan (Humse Hain Muqabla) is featured in the film, composed by AR. Rahman. The song appears when Dev Patel is walking on the street flirting and smiling.
First footage of the film debuted to audiences at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival among a show-reel of Weinstein Company's upcoming films. The first rough cut of the film was shown to a limited press screen audience at the Sundance Film Festival.
Australian TV-personality Todd Sampson filmed a small part as a university professor, making this his feature film debut. He previously appeared on the ABC TV show "Gruen" in which he discussed co-star Nicole Kidman's choice to appear in commercials.
The film features one Oscar winner, Nicole Kidman, and two Oscar nominees, Rooney Mara and Dev Patel.
The classic song "Come Closer" from Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki, is featured in the film. The song appears when Noor is feeding Saroo at the dinner table. The song was originally sampled from the song "Body Talk" by Imagination.
Sunny Pawar's struggle in the beginning of the movie is very similar to that of Dev Patel in Slum Dog Millionaire; they both share a similar story line.
David Wenham and director Garth Davis previously collaborated on Top of the Lake (2013).
The song "Aaja Nindiya Aaja Nainan" from the Bollywood movie Lorie is featured in the film.
The song " Chanda Ko Dhoonde Sabhi" from the Bollywood film Jeene Ki Raah is featured in the film.
David Wenham had a significant role in the first series of Top of the Lake and Nicole Kidman has been cast in the second series.