Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

In The End, It Is All A Story

I had been eagerly awaiting Life of Pi. The fact that it was helmed by Ang Lee only added to my anticipation. Lee is regarded as an auteur and his 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' is one of my favourite movies. Then the film trailer was releases and did it whet my appetite!

I shared it with my daughter who loves animals, the tiger being her fav. The excitement was infectious and she dipped into the namesake book by Yann Martel which won the Booker in 2001. Thereafter, it was countdown time.

Pi, short for Piscine Molitor Patel, is growing up in Pondicherry when his zookeeper father decides to relocate to Canada with the animals. Their ship breaks up in a ferocious storm when crossing the Mariana Trench and Pi finds himself on a boat with Richard Parker for company. Parker, incidentally, is an adult Royal Bengal tiger. And thus begins Pi's adventure on the Pacific ocean where not only must he try to stay alive but also catch enough food and water to ensure Richard Parker does not get tempted to eat the thin vegetarian Indian boy instead.

I came to the movie via the book and I'd suggest you do the same. Life of Pi, the book, is an adventure story interwoven with metaphysical questions such as the nature of God, the meaning of life and role of religion. (Which is one reason why the book seemed unfilmable for the longest time. Acquired in 2003 it had several writers and directors attached to it, including M Night Shyamalan and Alfonso Cuaron.)

Yet Ang Lee has managed to create a visual- and soul- satisfying treat. Through the incredible use of 3D technology he creates a world of beauty, terror and mystery that draws us in. Through four tigers and CGI he brings to life Richard Parker, the stunning tiger who eyes Pi as meat but adapts to the human who provides him with daily rations as they float on the Pacific. Suraj Sharma, first-time actor delivers a first-class performance as the young Pi.

Lee assigns his directorial sensibility to his Eastern/Chinese self which looks to harmonize and balance things in life. And there are many scenes in the film which capture this vision: a whale breaking the surface of water at night with a dazzling somersault, setting loose Pi's meagre rations; a horde of flying fish that appears out of nowhere, smacking Pi and Parker, leaving them bloodstained and with a boat full of fish; a carnivorous island that looks like a reclining deity...

The movie is a visual masterpiece and I found it both wondrous and life-affirming. There are those who have quibbled about its failure to adhere to the spiritual aspect of the book, its tussle with God and religion, and how the ending is obtuse. I'd disagree.

The magic of 'Life of Pi' the movie, for me, is how Lee manages to visualize on screen the several layers of 'Life of Pi' the book: man v/s beast, man v/s God; Nature as God; the nature of Nature; what stories mean, how they sustain us and the nature of storytelling itself. What is a human being but a narrative construct.

Let me end with a quote from the book which will give you a flavour of the narrative of Life of Pi:

“The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn't that make life a story?” 
― Yann MartelLife of Pi

If you're seeking some magic in your life, well what are you waiting for? 

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