If Picasso created magic on canvas, director Ang Lee creates cinematic magic with his latest offering Life of Pi and sucks us in right at its centre. Based on Yann Martel's book by the same name; it is the tale of middle class Indian family in Pondicherry, a former French Colony who owns a zoo.
When the family runs into financial difficulties, they decide to sell up, move to Canada and ship all the animals to North America. But not far off the Philippines, a storm hits and the ship sinks. Pi is the only person to escape on a lifeboat that also contains a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a tiger-- Richard Parker.
Soon, Pi and Parker are alone after the latter decides to make a meal out of the other animals; they're cast away together in a life boat for 227 days. What follows is an incredible story of hope and a testimony of faith. It is told in flashback form by a grown up Pi (Irrfan Khan) narrating it to writer Rafe Spall.
For a long time, the book was considered difficult to film with many A-list directors like M. Night Shyamalan and Alfonso Cuarón opting out of it but Lee dishes a visually magnificent feast, goes past strict realism and celebrates the dangers of a raw, untamed nature. A 3D spectacle never seen before, Lee creates each frame like a skilled painter where luminous sea and flying fishes come so alive. Of course, the Bengal Tiger is the hands down CGI winner. He is royal, fierce and beautiful.
The special effects are perfectly balanced by human emotions which lend an incredible charm to the film. It is a meditation of faith, if nothing else. Faith that makes us leaps into the dark and our powerful instinct to survive no matter how rough the road gets. Yes, they are heavy themes yet the film never becomes languorous or preachy.
On the acting front, debutant Suraj Sharma plays Pi with a touching honesty. He takes you through his arduous journey with a heartfelt hope and we the audience hope with him. What can be a better testimony to any actor?
I don't know if the film re-affirms my faith but I would definitely be happily dreaming about magic, hope and Richard Parker in the coming days.