Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Life of Pi...




11 academy award nominations…to a film featuring just an Indian skinny vegetarian boy and a CGI animated royal Bengal tiger, for almost the entire length of the movie. It made it to the screens here with little hype but garnered surprising responses in the long run. What made “Life of Pi” appeal to the local masses..? The Indian connection..?  The 3D factor..? Or was it the way in which a story of survival and hope was visualised amazingly lifelike on screen?? Maybe all the three if I could guess it right!



The story


A middle aged Pi Patel (Irfann Khan) narrates his survival story to an on-the-lookout writer (Rafe Spall), hoping to revive the latter’s spirits and restore his faith in God.  

In this narrative, Pondicherry-based adolescent Pi (Suraj Sharma) leaves for Canada with his family (and animals from his dad’s zoo) in a Japanese cargo ship. A storm leaves the ship wrecked and his family dies along with the rest of the crew, leaving behind Pi and the tiger Richard Parker as the lone survivors, adrift on a life boat. Hunger, seasickness and storms threaten their few chances of reaching the shore alive. How Pi and his man-eater companion survive each other and the near impossible journey forms the rest of the story.

Technical brilliance could be noted in every scene, every frame ...be it the flying fish, the Carnivorous island or most undoubtedly Richard Parker (the fact that he is animated and not real is forgotten for most part of the movie). The rich and the graphic detailing does steal the spotlight from the premise and the story. So the second narrative told to the Japanese officials (meant to be a twist in the tale) draws flak.

Director Ang Lee whose repertoire includes movies touching various genres like ‘Sense and Sensiblity’, ’Crouching tiger, Hidden dragon’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’ hits a new high with this fantasy and philosophical marvel.  Adding to the ‘Indian’ness of the movie is the cast with Tabu, Adil Hussain among others.

In the words of author Yann Martel (whose book the movie is based on), “….Ang Lee doesn’t use 3D as a gimmick... He uses the effect with great subtlety to give depth and translucence to the ocean and sky. It’s not just eye candy.” One can’t agree more. The spectacular visuals will stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre. Watching ‘Life of Pi’ is an experience of its own. It takes a while to get to know Pi. Once it’s done, be prepared to relive his life though this 127 minute, $100 million epic of a movie!