EXTREME HIGH AERIAL - DAY (1987)
We’re soaring - 20,000 feet above this vast island earth
VERY HIGH AERIAL - DAY
15,000 feet now - we’re soaring over a dark emerald ocean -
HIGH AERIAL - ABOVE INDIA - DAY
4,000 feet, whooshing effortlessly over cities, villages,
countryside, rail lines - all the mad glory of India
AERIAL - INDIA - DAY
2,000 feet, soaring, slowing, high above an ochre landscape
-way down there:
a TINY FIGURE picks its way through the
fringes of a small trash heap by a dam AERIAL
- ABOVE FIELD NEAR DAM, KHANDWA - CONTINUOUS (DAY)
20 feet above ground now, we’re following that tiny figure (a
SMALL BOY) from behind, as he scampers through the trash
EXT. RUBBISH-STREWN FIELD NEAR DAM, KHANDWA - CONTINUOUS
His TINY HANDS come into frame. Scavenging.
the same hands. Clearly a practised routine.
A YELLOW BUTTERFLY flutters onto the hand. The hand STILLS,
so as not to scare the butterfly.
Our tiny figure (SAROO, 5) stands up, ever so carefully.
we see him properly for the first time. Studying
the butterfly. Entranced. Then he notices a few more.
he’s in a field entirely filled with their fluttering.
Delighted, he spreads his arms wide. He moves through the
butterflies - fluttering all around his head and shoulders.
Suddenly - a 5-year-old testing his powers - he ROARS SAROO
- laughing - the butterflies scatter all around him
In the distance, up on the railway line that runs along the
ridge, a silhouette. Saroo’s BROTHER (GUDDU, 12) waves.
EXT. RAILWAY TRACKS - AFTERNOON
Saroo and Guddu hide in wait in the shrubs along the track.
A huge COAL TRAIN lumbers toward them, picking up speed.
Guddu bursts out - clambers up onto the moving train.
Saroo runs alongside, terrified and at the same time loving
the thrill. His bare feet hurting on the rough ground.
Guddu effortlessly swings himself onto the open coal car.
Keep up! Keep up!
Guddu starts throwing coal off the train, into the makeshift
net of Saroo’s shirt - mostly missing.
At any moment Saroo could go under those giant wheels.
Along the tracks: THREE MEN (SECURITY) give chase, shouting.
Guddu clambers down. The boys scramble for stray lumps of
coal. But they don’t have much time; the men are gaining.
They peel off into the dense scrub, giggling as they sprint
well-trodden short-cuts; the men begin to recede, B/G.
EXT. KHANDWA STREETS - AFTERNOON
Bustling Khandwa. Colors, street stalls, people everywhere.
Saroo and Guddu stride confidently through all this, holding
their pregnant coal bellies in place. They know this routine.
EXT. KHANDWA MARKETS - SOON AFTER (AFTERNOON)
They dump the coal into a STREET VENDOR’s bucket.
As the vendor ladles out a small plastic bag of warm milk
from a bubbling vat, Saroo notices something to his side POV,
as in a dream:
in another vat, rich, deep-orange Jalebis
sizzle - an unattainable feast that makes Saroo salivate.
Guddu ... Jalebis ...
Guddu looks at them too; for a beat we see beyond the boys’
deep hunger - they’re just kids, yearning for a sweet.
EXT. ROAD HOME TO GANESH TALAI - SOON AFTER (DUSK)
They run along the road home. Joyful, free. A job well done.
Turning into the final alley, they pass a house with a lurid
aqua wall, and a hedge of overflowing bougainvillea.
All the while we keep our eye on that little plastic bag.
INT. ONE-ROOM HOME - SOON AFTER (EVENING)
Home is a dirt-floor shack. Kerosene lamp. Bare walls. Coal
fire in the corner. Plastic dish tub. Subsistence living.