Direction: Ang Lee
Ang Lee takes on the arduous task of translating Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' into cinema, a book that deeply philosophizes faith, hope and illusion. Ang Lee transports you into Pi's world; as a viewer you might be captivated by the visual spectacle that the director has managed to create on screen but you are also fascinated by the young boy who is struggling to survive at sea and is trying to come to terms with his relationship with God.
Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) is quite a spiritual boy from his childhood. His family runs a zoo in Pondicherry and Pi is distraught when they decide to relocate to Canada. As the family sets assail in a ship with the zoo animals, a terrible storm leaves Pi (Suraj Sharma) shipwrecked, stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. They manage a miraculous feat of surviving 227 days at sea braving storms, hunger and a carnivorous island among many other challenges.
A film with a handful of characters and essentially with a teenager and a tiger playing the lead might have become a tedious watch but Lee keeps the audience engaged in every frame. Irrfan Khan as the elder Pi is compelling in the small role that he plays and is in essence, the narrator who holds the plot together, making the transitions easy and providing perspective where necessary.
Seventeen-year-old Suraj Sharma is impressive as the younger Pi. Not only does his character go through a lot of physical changes through the length of the film but you see a rare sensitivity on his face as he is completely unprepared for the adversities that confront him.
However, the star of the film is unquestionably the director of this magnum opus, Ang Lee. Not only is the cinematic experience in 3 D fascinating but the storytelling is seamless. Like Irrfan Khan had said when I had interviewed him, "It's cinema at its best".
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