Life of Pi (2012)

Life of Pi (2012)
Believe the Unbelievable
Directed by  : Ang Lee
Starring        : Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall
Genre        : Adventure, Drama
Runtime     : 127 minutes
WI's rating : 8.6

Pi PatelAll of life is an act of letting go but what hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye. 
Life of Pi unfolds like an ancient mariner's tall tale, related by a middle-aged Pi Patel (Irfan Khan) to a nameless Canadian writer played by Rafe Spall. As Pi digs back into his past, Lee cuts to Pondicherry, India, where a 12-year-old Pi (here played by Ayush Tandon) grows up on the grounds of a zoo owned by his eccentric parents - hence the menagerie of creatures introduced in the opening credits.

Although raised a Hindu, Pi becomes something of a connoisseur of religions, as a series of experiences leave him swing from Hindu to Christianity, and then to Islam. Life Of Pi lays its stall out early as a movie with big themes about existence and religion, about where humans fit in the grand scheme of the animal kingdom and the cosmos. But Ang Lee invest this potentially beard-stroking subject matter with humour and (one conversation with a Christian priest aside) a lightness of touch; Pi’s youthful fascination with religions of all kinds is gently undercut by his father’s cold rationalism("You'll only have to collect three more religions," he says, "And you'll always be on holiday"). 

It's when Pi’s family head for Canada that Ang Lee slowly and subtly allows his gloves to come off. With their zoo bust, Pi's mother and father hope to start a new life overseas, and with their animals in tow (which they hope to sell when they reach the Americas), they set off on a freighter full of Japanese sailors and a grumpy cook.
Pi Patel : Don't lose hope

When a storm whips up and sinks the boat, Pi (now 16 and played by Suraj Sharma) is left on a life raft with another unexpected survivor: a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, a handful of supplies and nothing but an expanse of ocean in every direction. This turn of events is shot in a matter-of-fact way, without incidental music or protracted scenes of anguish, and at first, it’s easy to be a little nonplussed by how emotionless this potentially horrific occurrence is; it’s only later that it becomes obvious what Lee is up to. Throughout, Lee dances a thin and dangerous line between fantasy and realism, between colourful whimsy and the stark danger of being stranded at sea.
Pi Patel: [facing a storm on the lifeboat] Richard Parker, come out you have to see this! It's beautiful! 

Most of the interaction is between him and Richard Parker, a Bengali tiger that has as much will to live as Pi does. Lee has filmed some unbelievable scenes, and I am still in awe about the way he did accomplish this. It's either the wonders of great editing, some quite sensational computer graphic imagery, or just plain terrific direction by Lee.

Pi and Parker's main goal is to survive, and they start by outsmarting each other and proving their worth, claiming territoriality, and giving us some thrilling and at times, very funny and scary exchanges. Eventually, as the story reaches its last sections, we see another type of link develop, and a film that is certainly qualifying as a wonderful movie from its beginning has now soared into greatness. The audience must be ready to gasp, and choke as powerful expressions, sometimes wordless acting force us into looking into our own emotions. Tears will inevitable roll out as you witness beauty rarely shown in movies

Suraj Sharma plays the most significant role in the movie with all his efforts and he wins it in the end. The guy is awesome handling some tough intense scenes in the movie. Irfan Khan playing the narrator as well as the older Pi shows his maturity in the business, patient with the small parts he never misses his character and his narration and dialog's delivery is to die for. Adil Hussain as Pi's father is superb with his character and does contribute a hell lot. Other actors contribute evenly including the computer generated zoo animals. 

The CG effects are even better. Put simply, Life Of Pi is a movie which could not have existed a decade or two ago. Even though part of our brain might scan for signs of artifice and occasionally find it, the quality of the animation and texturing on Richard and the film's other animals is such that even the most jaded eye will give up trying to spot the joins after a few minutes or so. This is partly thanks to sheer technical sophistication, but also thanks to the direction and cinematography, which sets us up for extraordinary sights long before they occur.

Spoiler alert

The Animal StoryIn this version of Pi’s tale, the cargo ship sinks and, during the ensuing chaos, he is joined on the lifeboat by a ragtag group of zoo animals that also managed to escape: an orangutan, a spotted hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, and a Bengal Tiger (named Richard Parker). After some time, Pi watches helplessly as the hyena kills the zebra and then the orangutan before it is, subsequently, dispatched by Richard Parker. Pi then sets about conditioning the tiger through rewarding behavior (food and fresh water), so that the two can co-exist in the boat. Though Pi succeeds, the pair remain on the verge of starvation – until, after several months at sea, they wash ashore an uncharted island packed with fresh vegetation and a bountiful meerkat population. Pi and Richard Parker stuff themselves, but soon discover that the island is home to a carnivorous algae that, when the tide arrives, turns the ground to an acidic trap. Pi realizes that eventually the island will consume them – so he stocks the lifeboat with greens and meerkats and the pair sets sail again. When the lifeboat makes landfall along the Mexican coast, Pi and Richard Parker are once again malnourished – as Pi collapses on the beach, he watches the Bengal Tiger disappear into the jungle without even glancing back.Pi is brought to a hospital – where he tells the animal story to the Japanese officials. However, when the agents do not believe his tale, the young survivor tells a different version of his journey.

The Human Story

In this version of Pi’s tale the cargo ship still sinks, but instead of the ragtag group of animals in the lifeboat, Pi claims that he was joined by his mother (Gita), the ship’s despicable cook, and an injured Japanese sailor. After some time, fearing for the limited supplies in the boat, the cook kills the weakened Japanese sailor, and later, Gita. Scarred from watching his mother die in front of his eyes, Pi kills the cook in a moment of self-preservation (and revenge).
Pi does not mention his other adventures at sea (the carnivorous island, etc) but it’d be easy to strip away some of the fantastical elements in favor of more grounded (albeit allegorical) situations. Maybe he found an island but realized that living is more than just eating and existing – deciding to take his chances at sea instead of wasting away in apathy on a beach eating meerkats all alone. Of course, that is purely speculation – since, again, Pi does not elaborate on the more grounded human story beyond the revelation that he was alone on the lifeboat.

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