Monday, December 10, 2012

The Richard Parker In Us

A fantasy adventure based on a novel by Yann Martel
Life Of Pi directed by Ang Lee

This is not a movie review. I would like to tell this in the beginning as I don't like to opinionate on movies. Not that its bad or anything, its just that my views are just one of the perspectives amongst thousands that might be out there. And yet, some other person with a completely different sensibility might just not conform to any of those views and end up loving or hating the movie.

I loved the movie 'Life of Pi' for one simple reason. It has so many layers, interpretations and complexities that I was completely awestruck by it. It looks like a simple story of a boy named Pi and his coming of age tale which unfolds in a rather extraordinary circumstances. But as you move higher in the layers or interpretation of the story, that you realize that it starts getting philosophical and spiritual. That's when it hit me as to  why this movie and the book on which its based is so damn good.

Religion decoded
The most common observation in this movie is about God. But its more about our beliefs and faith than any specific religion that this movie addresses. You could be a non believer, but even then you have your faith intact. The faith could be in humanity, in family, friends, your children or your partner. It could even be in you passion or profession. Every day and sometimes every moment of your life, this faith gets tested by situations. Your faith makes you who you are. When any, say, relationship breaks down, your belief in that relationship gets tested. You react or change, recover or reconcile to situations that are not your undoing. But you can never remain indifferent to what happens to you. You get tested and that is probably the hardest part of living our lives, the hardest part of growing and become a mature adult. Our path remains the same or changes forever. And there is no turning back. For Pi, his beliefs in three different religions and God, his superhero was put through a test. And as you watch it unfold, you realize what most religions are trying to say. That's where the discovery of God and keeping your faith gets realized, I believe.

Liberal vs Moderate?
Richard Parker, the royal Bengal tiger was truly a central character in this movie. You feared him, understood him and as the movie unfolded, you felt for him too. For me, Richard Parker was like the devil in us all. We look to moralities and socially acceptable notions of behavior as being the right thing to do. Yet our moralities get challenged with changing times. Not only social perspectives but also our reasoning's have changes and are rapidly evolving. There are those who critic and resist change. Some label them as conservatives, others call them radicals. But the truth is that Richard Parker will always challenge you. It will keep you alert and on the edge, nervous and afraid. But the fact is that you cannot do without him. He is the inner conflict that will make you see, think, realize and rationalize. He will eventually make you mature. Who is Richard Parker? Is it it liberals? Or perhaps from a individual perspective, is it our dark side? Is it that voice inside is that makes us think of things which are social taboos? I would suggest that you discover your own Richard Parker and understand him to understand yourself better. That's my take of it.

The Inner conflict
Pi has to survive the ordeal by sharing the life boat with a tiger. The boat reflects on our soul. Pi and the Tiger are our inner conflict of Good and Evil, kind of. I am saying 'Kind of' because 'evil' here is a misnomer. Its difficult to interpret right and wrong as its subjective. Yet we all make those mistakes of making a judgement. But the conflict exists and its our attempt to keep our territory and not loose it that becomes a life long battle. If the Tiger kills the boy, the innocence is lost, the faith abandoned or life taking a tragic turn. I guess you get what I am trying to say here. In the story, every element and entity had relevance and meaning. It was for us to reflect on it. Pi's father tells him that his belief in the tiger having feelings was reflection of his own thoughts being imposed on the tiger and not what it was. He wanted Pi to think rationally and make choices in life. Somewhere hidden in this statement, is a philosophical decryption algorithm to understand life.

Life Of Pi
The conflict and territorial battle for survival 

Dream or Reality
The protagonist tells two beautifully performed stories in this movie. The incidents central to what happened to Pi remain the same in both. Yet they are totally different. One, which gets told in the movie is almost like a boys imagination. You might say, its his hallucination or perhaps loneliness through the journey in the ocean that makes him believe it. The other, brutal and drenched in reality. You are made to make a choice. Your choice does not alter the destiny, it just takes you though a different journey. A journey that will, as mentioned earlier, mould your own view of this world and your own existence. Its philosophy to its core and it was intellectually a very stimulating experience, to say the least.

I haven't read the book. But I must say that Ang Lee put his soul into this movie to give us a masterpiece. I would recommend that you watch this movie and draw your own opinion. Its a wonderful expedience.