For what is probably the very first time in my life, I watched a movie before reading the book. I have had the paperback of “The Life of Pi” with me since a long time but somehow it slipped somewhere way down in my reading list and stayed that way till the cinematic release of its silver screen version recalled me to its existence. Even as I write this blog I make a mental note to read the book as soon as possible.
I watched the movie “Life of Pi” on Saturday. One of the attractions was the presence of Irrfan Khan and Tabu, who had together given several enthralling performances in the past, most recent of these being the film adaptation of another award-winning book, “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri. Also I knew enough about the original story by Tann Martel to be curious about how it would be showcased on film. I remember the director Ang Lee from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” which I had enjoyed watching despite finding it somewhat hard to follow. Anyway we reached the theatre on Saturday, albeit a little late. By the time we were ushered in the opening credits had already begin, with shots of birds and animals. The Life of Pi is the story of Piscine Molitor Patel, a young man named after a swimming pool in France. A resident of Pondicherry, he is the younger son of owner of the local zoo. His trysts with religion and faith take him along the paths of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. When the political situation in India deteriorates, the Patel family decides to relocate to Canada after selling off the zoo. With a few animals the family boards a freight ship which runs into a storm and capsizes leaving Pi Patel as the only human survivor in a lifeboat along with an injured zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a tiger named Richard Parker. And then the adventure begins.
I won’t reveal anything more here. It suffices to say that this film is the epitome of cinematic imagery and excellence. The effects are superb and unfold like poetry on the canvas of the silver screen. The story is profound and deeply philosophical and the stunning effects help to give it entertainment value. The climax of the movie challenges one to explore his / her own notions of reality and faith – it does not impose but asks you to decide what you believe. The young Pi makes a good impact – he is no Tom Hanks of “Castaway” but does justice to his role. The scene stealer is Richard Parker, at least for me. It is a very good movie but if you are going for a masala entertainment experience, this may not be your cup of tea.
I am starting on the book soon and will post my thoughts here once I am done.