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Think High as you watch Life of Pi
Nov 27, 2012 03:50 PM 2711 Views
(Updated Nov 27, 2012 05:32 PM)





I read Life of Pi soon after it won a Man Booker in 2001. I found it mystical and touching in my young mind. The movie is a compressed version of the book but nevertheless brought me peace as I connected it to my experiences.

I watched this movie amidst a multiplex crowd of students who thoroughly enjoyed the dashing Richard Parker in 3D. For me it was just more than that. It was a tale of a boy cast in the ocean with four animals bringing into play Darwin's survival of the fittest. The wild hyena kills the Zebra and the Orangutan, and is in turn eaten by the majestic Bengal Tiger, Richard Parker. Pi, the sixteen year old is a spectator of all these.

The haunting themes in the book and the movie is that of relationship and farewell. Pi is left to wonder as an adult of the significance of relationships when you are not able to say goodbye or you do not say goodbye. Pi's brother Ravi as well as his parents are killed in the shipwreck but he never was able to say goodbye or thank his father whose teaching helped Pi to survive. At the end after 227 days at sea when Pi's life boat hits Mexico, Richard Parker springs out and vanishes into the jungle with no looking back. Pi is left sad thinking how much he loved the tiger and they had kept each other alive in their own ways yet Pi never saw his reflection in the Tiger's eyes since it never acknowledged their friendship or allowed Pi to thank him.

Isn't this what happens to so many of us in our life's journey when we lose these chances, when we yearn for a last goodbye glance back from someone we loved and cared about yet we never get it. Does it take all significance out from the association…from that experience? Life of Pi leaves us with this haunting question.

It also makes us think about the difference between religion and God since Pi was a vegetarian boy who starts eating fish to remain alive. He forgets religion to find significance of the Hindu gods, Allah, and Christ in his fight for survival and hope. He understands that God does not manifest with a brand or label.

The journey of Pi Patel through the waters becomes allegorical where he realizes that what cannot be tamed has to be trained, where the most dangerous threat to his life the hungry tiger keeps him alert and conscious to the needs of their survival and hence their life, where he prepares to die and submit to fate only to be tossed into a floating island which is all nourishing in the day but carnivorous and lethal at night.

In this magical journey of sharks, choppy waters, glowing algae and plankton, meerkats, flying fishes and what not Pi realizes that magnanimous loss can be followed by endless unfathomable gain which cannot be defined.

The movie had travelled many hands before it came to Ang Lee. The sentimentalities, mystical solitude, pain, and enchanting poetry of  his best works(Crouching Tiger, Brokeback Mountain) live through in this movie. It also has strange humour which will put a smile on your face. Go and savour this wonderful cocktail of Robinson Crusoe, Sinbad the Sailor and many more.

Since I am a non-Tamil who have stayed in Tamil Nadu and have travelled in the southern part of India, just the glimpses of Pondicherry, Holy Rosary Church, the sound of Tamil and French which I could understand without reading the subtitles, and Munnar in Kerala were enough to take me back down memory lane.

The actors play their part well with kudos to Suraj Sharma(Pi). After the'Namesake' movie we see Tabu(Pi's mother) and Irrfan Khan(older Pi) together but not together in scenes. The movie has similarities to Hugo, and Avatar in look and feel but let's not judge.

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Life of Pi