Life of Pi -Paper to pixel, joy intact

by Nikhil Kautilya on December 18, 2012

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Comparison is futile. Comparison is, however, inevitable.

‘Life of Pi’ is originally a novel written by the Spanish author, Yann Martel. It is almost a fable having an Indian boy at its helm. His family decides to relocate to Canada for a better future for them when emergency is imposed in India but unfortunately their ship wrecks during the voyage. His father owned a zoo in Pondicherry and expected a better market in America for his animals and so, were travelling in a cargo ship along with the animals. To make Life of Pi what it is, no one except the boy, Pi, and few animals find themselves alive after the mishap. Pi, along with a Bengal tiger, Richard Parker, hyena, zebra, orangutan and perhaps, a rat find each other as their fortunate and unfortunate companions on a lifeboat. With time, only Richard and Pi are left. Their days together lasted for 227 nights. The story is about their survival, and then something more.

More or less, this forms the common ground on which movie is raised. And, one should accept that there is one novel Life of Pi and one film Life of Pi. They have their own joys to give to you.

In the novel, Pi’s story unfolds at a very affordable pace, and allows the spotlight to pass generously over the critical points. One almost has to gobble the takeaways in the movie. The intention doesn't find a good shape, and hence, the effect is not formative. The novel presented the background brilliantly with proper emphasis on the animals and their lives in general, Pi’s affair with the religions and then came the remaining part as his being the castaway. There were proper punctuation, subtle and quite apparent both, of humour, intelligence and wisdom. Yes, we know the time constraints a film-maker has. Still.

Some tracks and scenes were omitted, some new ones were added in the film. Definitely, one who has read the novel would miss them. The two Mr. Kumars, the iconic meeting of the representatives of three religions with Pi and his family at the beach gave some unforgettable moments in the novel. The tone, which was so very well set in the novel, was missed in the movie. Hence, the movie, it might appear, is a summary from somewhere.

Some plots were ‘rearranged’, like the scene where their father lets the tiger snatch the goat to teach his children the lesson or where his father, along with his other son, Ravi, comments on Pi’s numerous religious inclinations in a light-hearted manner. In the novel, Ravi said those things. His father was not that funny. In fact, his mother was, in the novel. But then these affect only who has read the novel. Otherwise, the director has stuck to the very imagination of the author.

What actually makes the movie iconic, which it definitely is in its own department as a form of expression, is the beauty which is portrayed on the screen. The cinematography is breathtaking. A lot many of the memorable scenes that would stick to some random curves in your mental labyrinth. The three-dimensional technology lends massive support to the film. It is not too overwhelming but used to good effect. To ease the jaw somewhere, to tighten it elsewhere.

The movie is more of an adventure. The novel went beyond that, surely.

Written by Nikhil Kautilya

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