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Sunday, October 24 2021

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Life of Pi: A tale of survival and triumph

Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee, is a marvel of storytelling and a masterpiece of visual excellence. It’s also considered as spiritually stirring film. The film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel which was thought for years to be unfilmable. Before arriving in the hands of Ang Lee, it went through multiple filmmakers as making it into a reality seemed a herculean task.

Again, the notion that films don’t justify the books is broken entirely through every aspect being incorporated in the talented hands of the director. It is said that Life of Pi was Ang Lee’s most ambitious film and it truly was a challenging one to make as majority of the action takes place on a lifeboat with only two characters, a teenage boy and a fully- grown Bengal tiger. If the film is still regarded as one of the all-time favourites, it is due to the director and editing team’s efforts in bringing the film up to par with the book.

It is indeed not a surprise that the film received four Academy Awards in 2013, including Ang Lee’s Best Achievement in Directing, Claudio Miranda’s Best Achievement in Cinematography, Mychael Danna’s Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects. It was also nominated for seven additional Academy Awards.

On board a Japanese ship sailing the Pacific, Piscine Molitor or Pi (Suraj Sharma) is travelling with his family and the animals from their zoo. Pi’s parents (Adil Hussain and Tabu) choose to relocate from India to Canada in quest of a better future. But it is not necessary for life to have a happy ending, right?

Everything changes after the ship is hit by a rogue wave. The plot then revolves around a teenager who spends 227 days in a lifeboat. Later he is brought to a hospital where he narrates the incident which puzzles everyone. This leaves you with the real question which story do you prefer to believe?

Pi narrates the story to the insurance agents after he gets rescued that he was accompanied by his mother (Gita), the ship’s cruel cook, and an injured Japanese sailor. Fearing for the boat’s limited supplies, the cook kills the Japanese sailor and then Gita. Pi kills the cook after witnessing his mother die in front of his eyes. Later he might have come across an island but decides to live than just existing and leaves from there. Upon hearing this the agents feel dissatisfied with the story and leaves.

After years, Pi narrates animal version of the story to a writer where he says that he got washed away on a lifeboat with his family’s tiger, an orangutan, zebra with a broken leg and a hyena. He watches helplessly as the hyena starts killing the zebra and then the orangutan before being killed by Richard Parker. The rest of the film is about Pi’s incredible journey and the bond that eventually forms between man and beast.

After days of misery, Tiger – Richard Parker and Pi find themselves in a mysterious island with high meerkat population where they were able to suffice their hunger. Soon they realise that it is not a place where they can stay any longer and continue with their journey. Pi collapses on a beach and he slowly watches Richard Parker disappear into the jungle.

The writer notes parallels between the two stories and derives that the orangutan represents Pi’s mother, the zebra represents the sailor, the hyena represents the evil cook, and Richard Parker represents Pi himself. Pi then asks him which story the writer prefers. The writer replies, “The one with the tiger. I think that’s the better story” to which Pi responds, “And so it is with God.”

The film contains breath-taking visuals, including the storm sequence, the ocean survival scenes, and the scenes with Pi and the Tiger.  It’s impossible to believe that the visual effects and computer-generated pictures give such a brilliant visual treat to the viewers, especially the ones used for magical island, the blue whale leaping out of the ocean, and the tiger taming sequences. It is also noticeable that there is also a conflict of faith and fate and it is up to the viewers which one they want to choose.

Suraj Sharma gives a fantastic performance in the film. He captivates you with his stunning portrayal of Pi, bringing the character to life on the big screen. As the older Pi, Irfan Khan gives a strong and outstanding performance. The plot might appear slow yet Pi’s journey enthrals you throughout. The movie urges you to believe in all kinds of unbelievable things, leaving you with two options: believe it or not.

Image Source IMDb

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SC Reshma B.

Reshma Babu, a young Postgraduate in Mass Communication and Journalism from St. Aloysius College, Mangalore University, utilises her considerable learned journalistic knowledge and inherent story writing and sub-editing abilities to add value to the company’s media brands and the editorial team. All dimensions of human interaction are her prime focus.

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