A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Posts tagged ‘life of pi’

Out of the Desert

I don’t like to watch movies made from books that have moved me. The most recent one I can think of is “The life of Pi”. I know. Ang Lee is a revered director and the movie won four Academy Awards. But the movie could not hold a torch to the book. To me, reading the book was like an awakening. I felt it in my nerves and read through it’s pages up until the spine tingling finish with wide open interest and often, laughter swirling through me. I don’t know whether the laughter was intended by the author, but to me, it was an integral part of my joyous experience of the book. The movie left me feeling hollow, unexcited, heavily dissatisfied. Before anyone starts telling me that it would have been a different experience in the theatre, let me say this much. I know. Audio visually it would have been a thrilling experience, but the beauty of Pi’s life was not in its scenery. I have written about my impressions about the book, which you may want to read. I am reading a book right now, that is encased within spectacular views as well, and if it was made into a movie, there would be a similar danger of it being converted into a visual feast, with the story being lost in adaptation.

I don’t think a movie will be made from this book, though. Firstly it is written by Deepak Chopra. Too much controversy. The scientific world seems to hate him and his philosophy. There is a tendency to laugh at his rhinestone encrusted glasses. There must be a spiritual law somewhere, “Thou shalst not wear rhinestone encrusted glasses if thou wisheth to be taken seriously”. In my experience, those who like his books whisper it to people who they are sure would not laugh at them. Perhaps because other people lump the message together with the messenger.

Secondly, this book is “Muhammad – A Story of the Last Prophet”, and there is not much sympathy in the world for his declared, or self professed followers right now. The book is a fictional outpouring of the man that was Muhammad, and the words of God he spoke. There is an intermingling of history and story in the book, which to me is not important. How much of the history do we really know, anyway? Do we care? Again, is the message important, or is the messenger? There may be value in understanding the messenger, as that would put the message into context. It may also help decode the imagery of the era and person into words which can be understood by masses a couple of thousand years down the track. . But in the case of this book, as well as “Buddha – A Story of Enlightenment”, and “Jesus – A Story of Enlightenment”, Chopra has sought to create a man behind the myth, who is part history, part folk lore, part fiction. “Jesus” was an easy read, though soul seeking, and “Muhammad” is building up the same vibes in it. I look forward to finishing it.

If they do make a movie, (will they?) I would love to watch it, because I love the desert scenery. Only three chapters into the book, the evocative desert scenes are making me wish to see it in spectacular panoramic extreme screen and sound, and not just in a small sphere in my head. I would probably even be minded to forgive the director if they strayed from Muhammad and concentrated on showing the beautiful Arabic sands.

desert with camel riders

Photo credit :

Sylwia Bartyzel

Why Pi?

Yann Martel with Life of Pi bookOnce in a while, an experience comes along, which can make or break a life pattern. An experience which can create a life so fraught with change that one does not know whether it is a life broken or a life built.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” is one such experience. The name conjures up the vision of an orange and black flash of a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger, a boy and a wide blue sea.  The prison of the vast sea, the freedom of the boat, the dangers of a life with no challenges, the safety of continually living on the edge of disaster are some of the themes that the story plays with.

Heaving and swaying on the Pacific Ocean, in a rudderless boat, in charge of staying alive and ensuring the ongoing life of a tiger, Piscine Molitor Patel forges his belief in God. He has grown up in a Hindu family, where, nevertheless, religion was not paramount. Pi nurtures within himself a belief in God with guidance from three religious wise men, of the Hindu, Islam and Christian faiths. In a country where these three religions have marched side by side for centuries, he imbibes a wisdom far beyond his adolescent years. He shows mature wisdom in his choices, even before he finds himself as the sole human survivor from a shipwreck when on his way with his family, and some of his family’s zoo to Canada.

In his Preface, Yann Martel promises us a story that would make us believe in God, and proceeds by numerous devices to prove his point. But the beauty of the storytelling is, that, if one stops trying to relate to the symbolism and the overt attempts at creating a parable, if one just slides into the being of Pi, one learns so much about oneself. Just like life, all is revealed when one just let’s go.

At seventeen years of age, Pi is tossed into a life most others would see as a nightmare, and he turns it into a dream, in face of  the unforgiving, harsh realities. He walks with God, and each day becomes a little bit more one of the Universe.

Does the book make one believe in God? I wouldn’t know. To me it is not a matter of choice to believe in God. One does not ask, “Do I believe I need oxygen to live?” One breathes in, one breathes out. One carries on.

The “Life of Pi” is a chance to get in touch with magic. The magic of belief in oneself. The magic of trust in oneself. The magic of love. The magic of beauty. The magic of the wide universe. The magic of trusting your enemy.

The “Life of Pi” is also an opportunity to learn to suspend disbelief. We are surrounded by self proclaimed realists who proudly announce that they only believe what they see. The “Life of Pi” offers us an opportunity to look beyond the touch and the feel of the physical world. To believe in belief.

The “Life of Pi” sets one’s mind free. Free to travel beyond the reaches of the mundane and the predictable. It allows the mind to grasp the possibility of true faith. Not a Faith that is bound by religion, or the persistent dictates of an institution. On the other hand, a faith that whispers in the breeze “ All is good. All is right. How could you have ever doubted?”

Hence, this is a challenging book. It can scare people into reacting and running the other way. Into hurling insults at it. But behind this reaction, it is easy to see that a few layers have fallen off the readers’ eyes, and they are dealing with it!

The book: wikifacts: SPOILER ALERT!Life of Pi book cover

The movie : By Ang Lee

The symbolism: SPOILER ALERT! 

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