Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi – (Un)Official Synopsis

Posted: February 20, 2011 by moifightclub in cinema, Hollywood, Story / Plot / Synopsis, Xclusive
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Thanks to the good soul who mailed us the (un)official synopsis of Life Of Pi. The film is directed by Ang Lee and is based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name. It has Irrfan Khan (Older Pi), Tabu (Pi’s mother), debutant Suraj Sharma (Piscine Molitor ‘Pi’ Patel) and Adil Hussain (Pi’s father) in lead roles. It’s scheduled to release in 2012 and will be in 3D.

And here is the synopis…

PISCINE “PI” PATEL (54) was born in India but now lives in Montreal. Though he loves Canada, he misses the heat of his native country. He is still a bit traumatized by the memory of being abandoned by RICHARD PARKER when he was 12.

Pi’s father studied zoology in Paris which is where he met Pi’s mother. An avid swimmer, Pi’s father taught Pi how to swim when he was seven. His father worked as the director of the Pondicherry Zoo in Madras. Pi grew up around the animals, learning to love each of theirs unique and sometimes amusing idiosyncrasies.

In school, Pi earned the unfortunate nickname of “pissing Patel”. When he entered middle school, he took the moniker Pi and was thankfully never teased again.

In 1964, over the objections of his mother, Pi’s father took Pi and his cousin RAVI to the tiger cage to watch it kill a goat. It was a lesson to teach them to fear the big cats. They may look fluffy and cuddly but they are ferocious animals.

Pi became interested in Catholicism. He would visit the local church and talk to the PRIEST about his religion. Pi was raised as a Hindu and would go to temple to question the PANDIT about his philosophy. Pi also would go to the mosque to ask the IMAM about his religion. Pi was fascinated by all three religions and considered himself a member of each. It never proved a problem until one day when he was walking with his parents and encountered the priest, pandit and imam. Each declared Pi a member of their congregation and got into a fight when the others made the same claim.

When the owner of the zoo, the MAHARAJAH died, his SON took control of his holdings. He decided to raze the zoo and replace it with a golf course. Pi’s father hoped he could change the Maharajah’s son’s mind by acquiring a lion for the zoo. He took Pi with him when he went to a circus to look for a lion to buy. While he negotiated a deal with the circus owner, Pi met the LION TAMER. He took the boy into the cage with him and showed him how he controlled the animals. The most important thing he taught Pi was never to show fear and to always be in command. Pi’s father was unable to make a deal with the circus owner and they left empty-handed.

With the zoo closing, Pi’s father got a job with the Canadian zoo which purchased all of the animals. They were loaded onto a boat along with Pi and his family. While on the cruise to their new home, Pi helped to feed the animals.

Pi was awakened one night to find his room flooding. The ship was sinking. The sailors freed most of the animals, giving them a chance on the open sea rather than drown on the boat. Unable to find his parents, Pi was taken topside by a sailor who threw him into the ocean. Pi swam to the nearest lifeboat, climbed aboard and watched the ship go down. That’s when he noticed that he wasn’t alone on the lifeboat. He shared it with a zebra, peacock and a hyena. Pi never saw his parents again.

Pi saw a tiger named Richard Parker clinging to a piece of driftwood nearby. It got that name from the Brit who found the orphaned cub that was then given to the zoo.

Pi is telling the story from his hospital bed to MR. OKAMATO and MR. CHIBA, investigators from the insurance company who were questioning him about why the boat sunk. Besides the two Japanese, there were a few nurses and orderlies also listening to Pi’s fascinating tale.

Pi then saw a hand grab the edge of the lifeboat. It belonged to a female orangutan who pulled herself into the boat. After a couple of days and getting hungry, the hyena moved to attack the zebra. Pi tried to fend it off with an oar but couldn’t stop the starving animal. It attacked the zebra who panicked and fell out of the boat. Thwarted, the hyena then turned and attacked the orangutan, killing it. That’s when the tiger reappeared, jumped into the boat and killed the hyena. Pi escaped the boat after making a raft from oars and life preservers. He stayed near the boat because it contained supplies that he might need.

As Pi continued his tale, his hospital room began to be filled with more patients and staff who were hanging on every word he said.

As the days continued, Pi remembered the things he learned from the lion tamer. Using a fishing hook he found in the survival kit on the lifeboat, Pi began catching fish to feed himself and the tiger. He would clean the fish by using one of the tiger’s discarded claws. In time, they formed an unlikely truce. The tiger wouldn’t eat Pi as long as he continued to feed him. When Pi got the chance, he would also feed on sea turtles and sea birds that he would encounter. Pi would keep track of the days by making notches on an oar. He would eventually make a total of 137 notches.

Pi woke up one morning to find that his boat had reached an island. The tiger jumped out and ran into the jungle. Pi began to investigate himself before passing out from exhaustion. He woke up to find his hands and feet bound. The sailor from the ship was also on the island. The sailor was apologizing for his what he was about to do – eat Pi. Before he got the chance though, he was attacked and killed by the tiger. Pi jumped back in his boat and began to paddle away but then felt guilty about leaving the tiger, so he used a whistle he had found to call the big beast. It came running (carrying the sailor’s arm in his mouth) and jumped back in the boat.

Some time later, the boat washed up on the beaches of Mexico. The tiger leaped to the shore and disappeared into the woods. Pi was extremely saddened by the loss of his only friend. Pi was found by some locals and taken to the nearest hospital.

By now Pi’s audience had filled his room and spilled out into the hallway. When he finished his story, many of the listeners dabbed at the tears in their eyes. Some openly wept.


Mr. Okamato and Mr. Chiba expressed their doubts about the veracity of the story, finding it to be just too implausible. When they saw Pi’s eyes look downward, they thought they hit a nerve so they ushered everyone out of the room. Pi then told a simpler tale. He said when he reached the lifeboat, it held his mother and two sailors, one with a broken leg. After a few days out on sea, one of the sailors wanted to kill the injured one to eat. Rather than face that fate, he jumped into the ocean taking his chances with the sharks. The sailor then turned and killed Pi’s mother, stripping her flesh to hang and dry. When the sailor fell asleep, Pi killed him and later ate him. Mr. Okamato and Mr. Chiba are distressed by the story, feeling sorry for Pi having to witness his mother being killed and cannibalized. As they left the boy alone, they remarked how similar his two tales were, marveling how the young man’s imagination had replaced humans with animals. They figured the hyena was one sailor, the zebra was the injured sailor and the orangutan was Pi’s mother. Who then was the tiger? Well, Pi of course.


Years later, Pi is living in Montreal. He returns to his apartment. Pi still has the tiger’s claw.

  1. stephanie says:

    One of the best and most original stories I have ever read. The writer portrays such vivid scenery that his words come to life off the pages. Each page leaves your mind hungry for more… This a very moving book in both the soul and mind.

  2. […] Click here to read the unofficial synopsis if you haven’t read the book. […]

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