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Life of Pi – review by a south indian homemaker

May 15, 2013

Watched this Ang Lee picture finally over the weekend.

Wish I had read the book first.

Its a beautifully made picture, i am so happy with the way director captured the spirituality of India and Indians so very beautifully.

As a teenager in 1980s, I remember India just like its shown in the picture.  The first few scenes are shot in Pondichery now re-christined ‘Puduchery.’

I am a hindu, a devout, pious one, but just like Pi i remember visiting the chapel within my mother’s catholic missionary school where she worked a teacher.  As we lit the candles, my mother might have said Christ and Krishna are one and the same, who knows (she is long gone since).  I am not sure because i don’t even recall questioning praying in churches in the first place.  My mother would take me and my sister also to Santhome Basilica and Besant Nagar church during Christmas times.  But we were never any less Hindu either.  On the other hand we were very traditional, conservative, practising Hindus, are until today. Inter communal faith is pretty common in India, or atleast it was in those days.   Whenever I and my sister fell sick, i remember my mom taking us to the muslim ‘dargah’ where an old man would tie a cord or something around our neck or wrist and chant whatever…. more than on medical doctors, my mother believed in the muslim old man’s faith in healing us.  But i don’t remember, we ever discussed religion at home.  All gods were various ‘avatars’ of hindu gods for us – its such a coincidence that even ‘avatar’ is a sanskrit word!

I don’t think i was the only strange one in my times with visiting the church or the dargah.  Many of my friends did.  I remember my granny telling me that in the hospital i was born, there was a chapel too.  In fact she prayed under the cross in the ward and the moment she learned i was born, she went inside the chapel to light a candle to Mother Mary.  My mother-in-law shares such a story about my husband who was down with brain fever when he was hardly 1.5 years old.  Says my MIL she prayed near the cross in the general ward in CMC hospital, Vellore so fervently.  My husband was one of the few rare children who got out alive from the hospital – brain fever was sort of an epidemic for a short period then.  Until now my mother-in-law lights a candle in a church during Christmas thanking the Christ for saving her son. But our beliefs in Hinduism stay strong at heart and nothing can waver that basic deep-rooted inherent faith.

I am so proud of this universal spirituality that is the hall mark of Hinduism which allows us to think of Christ or Mohammad like Krishna and/or Shiva.   Anything and everything we swallow and grow with whatever we ingest 🙂  I don’t think anyone else can do that.  For umpteenth time this quote unquote:

……  No two paths need be alike  ……     that one is most a Hindu when one is least a Hindu. Hinduism’s propensity to absorb a multitude of thoughts including even atheism makes it, at times, inscrutable to its own followers….

Suraj Sharma, the hero, who is Pi is absolutely natural delivering an unbelievable debut performance. The girl who comes as Anandhi is a local SBOA school girl.

My nation is so much steeped in tradition, ancient culture of which i am immensely proud.   May be there are some bad things happening now here and there, but let that not distract us from what we are originally.  Erosion of values over time is a universal crisis, not limited to only India.  Essential essence of India is our strong spirituality and belief in universal goodness.

Bombay Jayashree was nominated for Oscar for the opening carnatic melody, the lullaby:

What a remarkable faith in all good things in life, in harmony, in the One Super Power with many avatars whose overwhelming presence is all around us in the sky, in the waters, in the sand, in everything…. If you believe its stone, its stone.  This is what we Hindus, the so-called idolators, would like to insist. If you start believing the idol is a concentration point and manifestation of all worldly powers, you will be enveloped by that divine aura, drawing comfort from the glow of the lamps, from the scent of the flowers, the aroma of the incense sticks, the mesmerising warmth of the chanted mantras, the ringing of the bells…   One feels lulled into peace, contentment and good vibes for once prevail over bad vibes and the mind is clear (even if for a few moments)….

So it all finally boils down to ‘belief.’  If you believe, its there.  If you don’t , well then you don’t!

Yes, whatever happens our people say its for a good reason.  If you flunk an exam, if you miss a train or flight, even if you survive a heart attack – its all for a reason!  The elders in our families would say, you failed the exams so God wanted you to work harder from now on, you missed the flight because some other course of events was charted for you or who knows you could have died in a crash (!) and you had the heart attack as a warning sign that announces that with a by-pass you are given a fresh lease of life of some 10 years minimum which you must put to good use!

So what more must happen to our folks to play the blame game and lay the responsibility, everything at the foot of God Almighty?!

Everything happens for a reason!  For everyone in India, especially Tamil Nadu!

This kind of life philosophy is handed down through generations since time immemorial in our families.  So no one is wrong, nothing is wrong.  It all happens for a reason!!!  Until i saw this picture, it never struck me.  After the picture i reckon, after all i have been nurturing and practising this kind of strong sentiment all through my life, at each and every step practically!  Its so… ingrained in each and everyone of us here!

Thanks Ang Lee for helping me with this self-realization!

My heartiest wishes to the boy Suraj Sharma who played the hero.  God bless!  And God bless Richard Parker, the royal Bengal tiger, the second hero of the film.  He is the wealth of India.  I have been watching on and off ‘Where tigers walk’ in the channel ‘Animal Planet.’  Tiger is our national animal and for right reasons.

God save all the wildlife of India.  Imagining India without tigers and elephants is so weird and painful.

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