The Oscar-nominated film Lion was the first movie I saw at an actual cinema in five years.
If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil. But I will say the following…
By the final five minutes, the entire cinema – men, women, children – were overflowing with emotion; sobbing tears of elation and profound pain.
Despite the very positive ending however, there are parts of the film that are left completely unresolved; loose ends that couldn’t be brought to a happy cinematic conclusion simply because it would be a lie.
One of those stories is that of Mantosh – the other child adopted by Sue and John Brierley (along with the film’s protagonist, Saroo) whose atrocious experience in Indian orphanages has left him battling severe mental illness.
The film didn’t tie a bow around his story. Because according to Sue Brierley, his story is still unfolding.
Listen: Sue Brierley opens up to Mia Freedman about her and her husband’s struggles with their other adopted son, Mantosh. (Post continues after audio…)
Lion tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, who was accidentally separated from his family as a toddler in the tiny Indian town of Ganesh Talai, and then adopted by a couple in Tasmania.
He didn’t know the name of his home town; didn’t know where it was; and didn’t know how to get back.
He even pronounced his own name wrong. Against all the odds, however – in 2012 – Saroo tracked his birth family down. 26 years after being lost… he was found.
That’s the story Lion tells.
His adoptive family in Australia - Tasmanian couple John and Sue Brierley - adopted another child from India, too.
And while the gut-wrenching story of Mantosh, their second adoption, is touched on in the film... it's not depicted in great detail. Rather, he is depicted as a symbol; a touching reminder that not every adopted child lives a life as full as Saroo.
And in Mantosh's case, he is by no means to blame.
"When he arrived here as a kid the backs of his hands had been burnt, and still had scabs from cigarette burns", Sue Brierley tells Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast.
According to Sue, the adoption process when it came to Mantosh was anything but easy.
"When we wanted to bring Mantosh to us, he was seven. He'd been relinquished by his grandmother, and at that time he was still quite a bright lad", Brierley says.
She goes on, "[His grandmother] couldn't keep Mantosh in her care anymore, while he was waiting to come to Australia, once we'd accepted him."
"So he had to go back to [the orphanage] where he was burnt, raped, beaten, you name it. And I'm very bitter about that." - Sue Brierley
And now? The confronting depiction in the film by Divian Ladwa didn't sit well with Mantosh at first.
"He had a bit of a crash after seeing the film... Mantosh was very upset... it unhinged his health for quite a while", Brierley says.
However. It hasn't all been negative. According to Brierley, the release of the film acted as a catalyst for Mantosh to re-visit the part of his life before he came to Australia.
"He's got a new psychiatrist," she says. "He's actually started talking about those events."
You can listen to the full episode of No Filter with Sue Brierley, here.