Life of Pi

When Yann Martel wrote Life of Pi, he told the tale of Piscine Molitor Patel- ‘Pi’ Patel, narrated by an adult Pi. The story begins with the fourteen year old Pi on his father’s zoo in Pondicherry. His parents then decide to move to Canada, selling the zoo and uprooting their family. Enroute, their cargo ship sinks in a storm, and this is where Pi’s bizarre, gripping journey on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan named Orange Juice, an injured zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, begins. And from that instant on it’s thoroughly unputdownable.

Ang Lee’s movie adaptation of the book released last week. Introducing Suraj Sharma as Pi, and featuring stalwarts such as Irrfan Khan and Tabu, it is first and foremost an Ang Lee film- the visuals in the movie are nothing short of breath-taking. And as described by a fellow movie-goer, “It is the film to make a staunch non-believer in 3D, a believer”.  Life of Pi pushes boundaries and raises the bar on 3D in particular and motion picture technology in general. Each frame of the film is thoughtfully crafted and it shows in the end result- the visuals, the vast, almost vital emptiness of the skies and seas, and the effortless opulence of the film are almost as central to the tale as the tale itself. And that is the most prominent element the movie adds to Yann Martel’s story.


But while the movie is a must-watch, it does tone down parts of the book- Pi’s childhood teachers, his knowledge of the zoo and of animals, descriptions of his life on the carnivorous island, his conversations with Richard Parker (the 450 pound Bengal Tiger), and his blindness, are only some of them. But the exclusions somehow help tie the film tighter together and make it more believable than the book.

Comparisons? Which one wins? It’s impossible to choose- while the book draws you in and commands your undivided attention, the film steps in and takes your breath away.


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