Ang Lee’s big budget Hollywood offering, Life of Pi, is something I was waiting for with bated anticipation. And when I did finally watch it, it did not disappoint at all.
Based on Yann Martel’s Man Booker Prize winning book, by the same name, the movie by Ang Lee, is visually breathtaking. A must see, for anyone who loves to watch movies. The 3D special effects are stunning, lyrical and poetic. Some scenes make you gasp almost aloud, for its sheer beauty; even though one knows at the back of the mind, that the frame is computer generated. I guess it is the way the director has envisioned each frame, is what makes it such a marvel to watch.
The movie Life of Pi is a layered allegory about life, faith and survival. It may or may not touch you, at the metaphysical/spiritual level, but it is sure to wow you with its technical and visual brilliance.
What I loved most about the movie is, that there is at least one layer for the viewer to savor. It could be visual, technical, intellectual or spiritual.
At what levels did I like the movie? I absolutely loved it at the visual level and the spiritual level touched me too. When the protagonist Pi, as a child finds magic in every religion that he encounters, is one of the many amazing high points in the movie, which personally touched me.
Another favorite scene, which stung and brought hot tears to my eyes, was when the Royal Bengal Tiger, Richard Parker, on reaching the shore of safety goes away, without so much as looking back. It was really the ensuing dialogue said by a much older Pi while reminiscing, which brought tears. The dialogue goes as..
“I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. That pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.”
And another one…when Pi, recounts of how he feels saddened he never thanked his father, for all that he taught him. Yes, we so forget to appreciate and express our gratitude, in the churn of daily life. Pi says, “It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.”
Aah, another one… (promise this is the last!)… While lost in the middle of the Pacific, Pi traps a beautiful large fish. He kills the fish, but as soon as he sees the lifeless eyes of the fish, he is filled with remorse. One wonders, have circumstances brought out the animal in him. Or has Pi become so, being in the company of one? All of a sudden, Pi bends forth and says, “Thank you Lord Vishnu, for coming in the form of a fish!” For those not aware, as per Hindu mythology, fish is the ‘Matsya (fish in Sanskrit)’ avatar of lord Vishnu. It was this very avatar i.e. form, which had saved the first man, Manu. I am unsure how many, watching the movie understood the reference, but as I had said earlier, the movie is very layered. This scene remains evocative of the survival instinct in Pi, whether or not one understands and appreciates the mythical connect with Vishnu’s avatar. There are many such hidden mythical allegories, one just needs to sense them, while watching the movie.
Yes, a lot of people may say, especially if one happens to be an atheist or skeptic, that the reference to ‘God’ has been overdone in the movie. I would say, here the reference is ‘higher power’; it is really more about faith, than anything else. As the movie progresses, one can see how seamlessly this faith fuses with life and his survival.
Oh, and how can one not mention, this fabulous rendition of the popular Tamil lullaby by Bombay Jayashri and Canadian composer Mychael Danna. I do not understand Tamil…but the soulful voice of the songstress touched me so. A friend was kind enough to share the meanings of the song…which go as…
My Eye, The apple of my eye, Rest your eyes and sleep Oh Flower. Are you a Peacock? Peacock with beautiful feathers? Are you a Nightingale? Nightingale that sings beautifully? Are you the Moon? Are you the light of the Moon? Are you the eyelid? Are you the dream inside those eyelids? Are you a Flower? Are you the nectar of the Flower? Are you a fruit? Are you the delicious taste of a ripe fruit? Ra ra ro ..
Life of Pi, is one movie which one keeps thinking about, even post leaving the movie hall. Yes, go ahead watch it…it is really like no other.