Posts Tagged ‘Tabu’

(WARNING: Watch the movie first. May spoil it for you if you don’t.)

It feels a little strange to call a film titled ‘Andhadhun’ pointedly self-aware. But then if a Sriram Raghavan film won’t kill and resurrect irony a thousand times, then what will?

Just when the Nanas, Bahls and Kavanaughs of the world had you ready to throw yourself in the nearest gutter and die, there comes something so innocuous – a thriller film that ends up giving you hope about life. There is still some goodness left in the world and it’s all stuffed inside Sriram Raghavan’s film.

Wait, hope did you say? In a film full of darkness, little innocence and no redemption? What hope did I find in this universe of dystopia that is so dystopic it doesn’t even take its own dangers seriously? Enough so that I don’t get pimples due to all the invisible tension, you know!

Andhadhun is good for health
It is like anaar juice. You know, rich and full of texture and body wala juice that is actually just clear liquid. You drink and feel you are in heaven but the minute its over it is over. But you still relish it for a long time, that richness and the memory of the texture of the richness. It’s local but exotic at the same time, sweet and sour at the same time and dry and wet at the same time. Anaar juice is also very good for the liver, no?

And apparently, so are rabbits, full of vitamins and minerals. The vitamins and minerals of this film go far beyond the sharply written plot spiralling out of control every five minutes. Or so it seems because it never goes out of hand. The film merely teeters on the edge; as mercurial as Tabu’s performance, as lucid as Radhika’s and as fluid as Ayushmann’s.

What keeps it from teetering off the edge is the phenomenal love for the medium on display, the self-assured craft and the Raghavan moral universe that plays hand in glove with immorality as smoothly as the images, sound, music, words, places, people and performances play with each other; all the worlds he seems to understand equally well.

Such ingenuity cannot come without a distinct love and understanding of the medium and it cannot come without the accompanying genius of your team. Without K.U. Mohanan’s intriguing camera work, Madhu Apsara’s equally trippy and cheeky sound design and Pooja Ladha Surti’s shrewd editing, the film would not have been half of what it is eventually, a sheer treat of music and magic.

Such ingenuity also cannot come without a stronghold on the moral core of the story. Raghavan’s films may all be stories steeped in an immoral universe with equally susceptible heroes, where goodness doesn’t necessarily always get rewarded and evil isn’t always punished. Yet, they operate within a very clear and basic framework of right and wrong that never loses its focus, even when gutted and laughing at its own self.

A completely plot-driven narrative from start to finish, one then almost imagines Raghavan playing similarly with his film. Turning his hero from blind to not blind to blind to we-don’t-even-know-anymore, with a tongue firmly tucked in the cheek. Chuckling away at the absolutely delicious conundrum a murder-gone-wrong can become. Shoot the piano player! Shoot! No, not yet! Shoot! Missed! Run! Hit! Fall! Gotcha! No? Wait…What?! I want a time plus brain machine that can go inside SR’s head and tell me how it was working when he was writing this whacko piece of sheer art.

When the hat tipped and tipped
The film saves its tribute card for Chhayageet and Chitrahaar, very aptly personified as fondly remembered, dearly loved people now no more, with dates et al. (Oh yes, sir, yes!) All the love for Bollywood then flows freely as the thriller merrily turns itself into a musical tribute to Hindi films and films in general; noir in particular – SR’s pet territory. And here comes in Truffaut’s delectable, ‘Shoot The Piano Player’, a film whose language SR borrows from so gracefully and meticulously that he outdoes Truffaut at his own game in creating a unique piece of cinema at once tragic and comic, classical and unconventional, silly and smart but with the distinct impression of a directorial sleight of hand that is playing with his material as consciously as the film seems un-self-conscious while having a lot of fun himself. This is the real tribute, and it is delectable.

The film almost starts similarly, taking the noir trope of a gun chase set-up happening in some other universe and immediately cutting to the universe of the film. The chased in Truffaut’s film is the protagonist’s brother, a semi-central character that turns the film on its head, the chased in Raghavan’s film is a rabbit, a non-character that turns the film on its head. That’s how whimsical is his craft. And delicious!

Kent Jones in his piece on Truffaut’s film says it is a film, “in which all of his assorted gifts and preoccupations are in play and meshed into a uniquely idiosyncratic whole. The film offers powerful evidence of his love of American cinema and literature… There is that wonderful speed, a pleasure in and of itself, that amounts to a kind of worldview—actions, objects, places, and sensations glimpsed and seized on, almost spontaneously forming a vivid afterimage in the mind’s eye. And his high-velocity storytelling is intimately tied to the feeling of impending mortality, the sense of every given moment in time coming and going, never to return. As for surprise, Shoot the Piano Player is about as unpredictable from one moment to the next as any film I know.” Was he speaking of Andhadhun and Sriram Raghavan?!

Perhaps, it is the play of contrasts in the film that lends it its unpredictability and richness. Yoking seriousness with hilarity at every turn, the tonal quality of the film becomes a universally mocking one and freely so. This delicious mockery is directed at everyone, everyone is in on the joke, except the characters. That’s why as Simi’s character unfolds we revel in the knowledge she can never be Nurse Radha – part 2. I am assuming it is a play on Waheeda Rehman’s character in ‘Khamoshi’ (1970), that genteel, heartbroken woman yearning to love again. Lady Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, we say (not only coz it’s the perfect Tabu, the original Lady Maqbool) but until Dr Swamy calls her so we realise she is far away from that too; Simi is absolutely guilt-free, completely soul-less. But then, with the exception of Sophie and Akash, this entire universe is completely soulless. Even Bandu, that see-it-all brat, who quickly enough becomes the audience’s ally in getting to the bottom of this mystery-within-mystery. Until the film takes another crazy spin at interval.

Whose lens is it anyway?
The blind hero who was not blind has now officially turned blind. What is this seeing and unseeing business? It’s a smooth trick of genius-giri. We, as audience begin the film watching Akash’s story first through the innocent, naïve eyes of Sophie, then as we are wisening up to the antics of the film-maker he shifts our POV to a smarter lens, that of a precocious, oversmart Bandu. Just when we think we have caught up with him here too, the proverbial rug is off from under our feet and we are in the deep, dank, dark. Just like our hero. From then on and just like him, we are fumbling in the dark too, with all the secrets hanging around for us to grasp and unravel. Till we are back to being the gullible Sophie again left to put the pieces together. And we do, until a crushed coke can hits a rabbit handled stick and knocks that part of our brain that tells us when we have been played. Check-mated sir, and glad to lose! And that is why I disagree with every review that says the second half is weaker and loses steam. The second half in fact, is as perfect as the first, maybe even better, puncturing perfectly, all the balls of contrast constantly in air.

These contrasts play out on all levels, much like all the cinematic elements in the film, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes one after the other in rapid succession, moulding and remoulding the film as it goes. The permanent warm tone sets up an idyllic, small-town Pune only to open up into the brutality at its borders. Dramatic, operatic music punctuates dramatic scenes as well as turns them comic, and in the scene where Simi and Manu clean the traces of their crime as Akash plays away – tragi-comic (and brilliant!). The sound cuts, diegetic yet full of imminent danger, keep the excitement tingling as the film keeps playing with our senses and feelings. After a point, the musical bit in this ‘musical-thriller’ transcends from the world of Akash’s piano and starts creeping under our skin as it starts underlining the unfolding darkness, tragedy and comedy. I don’t think Beethoven himself could have thought of a better cinematic use for his 5th symphony. Very cheeky, but the classic ‘Teri galiyon mein‘ is now redefined for generations to come. And since we are talking about music, welcome back Amit Trivedi and Jaideep Sahni, it had been a while.

As the film draws to an end, you suddenly become aware of the smile on your face, pasted there with Fevicol for the past 2.20 hrs. You realise you are feeling happy and hopeful. You also realise you wanted the film to go on and on. Especially, since the ending is still open, still incomplete. But then as Sophie says, ‘Kuchh cheezein adhoori honese hi toh poori hoti hain.’

You get up, humming aapse milkar accha laga, bahut accha laga. And walk out giving out a silent, invisible bow. Ekdum liver se.

Fatema Kagalwala

When master of the modern Hindi noir, Sriram Raghavan, announced his next project ‘Andhadhun’, there was a lot of discussion around the name, what it meant, and how it was supposed to be spelt. And of course, what the movie would be about.

The trailer and new poster for the film was released today (film’s new release date is now 5th October), and it shows that it is the love story of a blind pianist, who meets a terrific girl and then another woman, and then many things happen to him. Among his inspirations for the film Raghavan counts Fargo, both the film and the series.

The premise is interesting enough, and the trailer makes it even more so. The IMDB synopsis on the film reads: “He sees what he shouldn’t. She sees what he couldn’t. So the question is, does he see it or not?”

The trailer also revealed that the film stars famous 70s actor Anil Dhawan, which is causing much excitement amongst fans.

Here’s the trailer of the film:

Starring: Radhika Apte, Ayushmann Khurana, Tabu, and Anil Dhawan
Producer: Matchbox Pictures, Viacom18 Motion Pictures
Writer & Director: Sriram Raghavan
Editor: Pooja Ladha Surti
Co-writer: Arijit Biswas
Music: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni
Release: 5th October 2018

Here is Sriram’s interview regarding the film on Scroll.

Seen Haider yet? Naah? What are you doing? Go, book your tickets first. Coming back to the film, if Vishal Bhardwaj can get two Salmans, we aren’t far behind. We got two Haiders. One is his, other is ours. So here is our Haider on his Haider.

Our Haider Hussain Beig is a 23 year old filmmaker based out of Netherlands. When he’s not alienating close friends with painful film gyaan, he dabbles in Aerospace Engineering. You can check out his stuff here. This is first post here.

To read our previous post on the film, “Haider : Uncertain, Complex, Asymmetric…Because the screenplay is Kashmir”, click here.

Haider2

Heavy handed exposition usually kills a film for me. It could be a tasteless voiceover or a redundant character painstakingly ear-fucking the audience with drab explanations of already convoluted plot-points. Which brings me to one of my favorite ‘did you catch that?’ Moments in the film. It occurs when Khurram is being led into an abandoned house and he notices ‘Yeh toh Kaul Saab ka ghar hai.’ Then a brief exchange ensues about the whereabouts of ‘Kaul Saab’, finally coming to the conclusion that he has ‘shifted’ to Bombay.

This was an in passing reference to the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland. It perfectly captures the nonchalance of the characters who, putting it crudely, have different issues to deal with now. And perhaps are still dealing with the brutal and horrific ousting of their Hindu neighbours as a mere migration to the big city. This is just one of the many examples of sheer brilliance in storytelling by someone who I would not have expected less of. Best of all, I didn’t feel like I was being explained a point of view or thrown facts at that I was supposed to ingest like a frustrated teenager in a History lesson. I knew most facts about the region and the socio-political situation already, and never once did I feel the need to internally sigh with a ‘pata hai bhai, gyan dena band karo‘. And trust me when I say I know a lot about Kashmir. Because unlike most of us, I have not been fed frustratingly conflicting facts from different sources of news, I have lived them in my own little way.

I was born in Delhi to a German mother and a Kashmiri father, who decided to name me Haider. It’s one of those unique ‘this-guy-is-definitely-a-Shia’ names. I guess like most things my father does, he wanted to be different. And I was happy with that. I personally don’t know any Haiders. Until late last year, when I heard Vishal Bhardwaj was making his third Shakespeare adaptation on Hamlet, called Haider. Same name, same spelling. Not Hyder, Heydar, or Haidar. HAIDER. F-U-C-K-ed-M-E.

Putting it simply, it’s unnerving to see your name in posters, on billboards, as a trending hashtags of some of my cinematic idols on the big screen. In the ticket line at the box office I turned around as a reflex to my name being called out by impatient ticket buyers. And let’s not get started with the jokes that only true friends and elementary school goers can come up with; ‘How does it feel to have Shahid Kapoor in you?’, or ‘Dude! You gave Hansal Mehta fulfilling sleepless nights!’.

What put me to a melancholic ease though, was the name being pronounced in a Kashmiri accent. It took me back to an angry grandmother yelling out ‘Huhder!’ at my mischief. It’s sad that it takes a great like VB to put in the careful attention to detail to make sure that stars make the proper effort into not caricaturizing the dialect. From Shahid Kapoor’s ‘Sirinagar’ to Shraddha Kapoor’s endearing ‘Luvved, Givved, Suckked, Fu..’. They were almost pitch perfect. And even if some may not agree, full points for the effort.

The dialogues, their delivery, and timing, were just a revelation. Blending in Shakespeare’s cunning words with the heavy backdrop of the ‘Kashmir Issue’. Nothing felt pedantic, heavy handed, apologetic, expositional, out of place, or forced. It was as it should have been. Nothing more, nothing less.

The supporting cast was mostly played by locals, and they were spot-fucking on. There was no need for windy character back stories. From Janus’ two faced Salman and Salman, to Khurram’s born-again militant henchman. They could all have separate films based on them and I would pay good money to watch those too. It’s heartening to see such a wide pool of talent scattered all across the country. WAKE THE FUCK UP, BOLLYWOOD!

Shraddha Kapoor’s work was a welcome surprise. I wouldn’t say her performance was perfect, but three films in, she’s already giving her contemporaries a hard time. Aloof, innocent and gullible, Arshia was what I would call a perfect representation of Kashmir in the early parts of the militancy. It resonated, or was rather amplified by Tabu’s Ghazala, as a more worn out, mature, but also much more grey representation of Kashmir in the time the film is set in, the glorious mid-nineties. It seems like Tabu is the only actor that can play a self destructive feminine character in a Shakespearean tragedy to such seasoned perfection. And to Shahid Kapoor, all I want to say is, Ghanta-Ghar in Lal Chowk will never be the same for anyone again. They better fucking throw all the big (even if bogus) awards at him.

Never have I seen a film capture the reality of the situation so beautifully. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is a result of what would happen of each character we’re given a brush to paint out exactly what they see. Each frame was a representation of these personal works of art. It was almost akin to the wounded beauty of the valley. You are one of my heros. I was more excited about seeing your name attached to the film than VB’s. After Ship of Theseus, and now this, I can’t wait to see much much more work from you!

Finally, to the master himself. Vishal Bhardwaj. I might need a series of blog posts to talk about your work. And I’m sure, as I have also read, there is enough information, analysis, discourse and dissection of your work already. I’d rather not add to the pile. I’ll stick to what stuck out most for me, the score. I had listened to the songs that had come out in the run up to the release quite a lot. My favorite being, of course, Bismil. Though what really captured my entranced attention was the score. So, so, …. Fuck I’m out of adjectives that would do justice. I hope the score will be out soon. I know what music I’m going to write to now.

I have never lived for more than two months in Kashmir. Most of my upbringing has been in Delhi, though I have visited Kashmir every year of my life since I was born, most of those years being the most dangerous. I have only fond memories. I have never once seen a terrorist/mujahid/militant/freedom-fighter/jihadist. And it’s not like I lived in a cordoned off posh area. In fact my family lives in one of the rather impoverished Shia neighbourhoods in Srinagar. Though that is not to say, that the distant sound of gunshots and bomb explosions was not a common sound. In my own way, a part of my brain would register them as the sound of Diwali fire crackers, and things would be festive in my mind again. I’ve had the most tranquil moments of reflection on the banks of the Nigeen lake, on a grass patch between abandoned houseboats. I’ve cried my eyes out laughing with my cousins at the millionth viewing of Andaz Apna Apna on local cable channels. And don’t even get me started on wazwan. The closest I’ve come to ‘danger’ was a scooter ride back from football practice, dodging a hail of stones, swerving around burning tyres, and slyly detouring to my aunts house who lived nearby. I’ve always thought of that memory as a rather funny adventure. My worried wailing mother on the other hand, did not.

On the contrary, I’ve heard personal first hand accounts of friends, acquaintances and even close cousins (mostly young men), about the dangers they’ve had to endure. From both the militants and the army. Some accounts are so chilling that I’d rather not get into them, for your sake and mine. ‘Jab do haathi ladte hain, neeche ghaas hi kuchli jaati hai‘. It saddens me to see tasteless Anti-India graffiti vomited on ancient walls. Though their distrust and disdain for the AFSPA and conversely the Armed forces, is not without reason. There are bad apples everywhere, even in Kashmir. I recommend Ashwin Kumar’s two brilliant documentaries – Inshallah, Football and Inshallah, Kashmir. They will show you a side of the story the mainstream media conveniently redacts. I’m not an expert on the subject and I’m not foolish enough to think that I might even have something close to an answer. If anything, having a foot in both worlds, has given me a rather confusing point of view, so I usually stay out of Kashmir based bar-conversations. Plus, whenever anyone looks at me for an explanation, I conveniently say, ‘I don’t know bro, I’m German’. Which is why, I love this film too. I went in as an outsider, and actually learnt a few things I did not know. Thank you Basharat Peer, I’m no one to challenge a reputed journalist and writer who, by the way, happens to be from Kashmir.

Haider is by far the most realistic depiction of Kashmir I’ve seen on screen so far. That includes Aamir Bashir’s heartbreaking Harud.

It’s a perfect balance that knocks you out of your seat in a jolt of energy and then in an instant makes you slow-down and wonder. The only think I would have liked to see more of was a bit more on the exodus of the Kashmiri Pundits. Though, the film takes place in a time when the people have ‘gotten over’ it.

The first scene I ever wrote was of a conversation between two friends on the banks of the Nigeen Lake, my spot of tranquility, hiding from the world, sharing a cigarette, something I’ve done a countless number of times. Since then I’ve rewritten, thrown out, written again, and rewritten it again. I think it’s time to finally finish it. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.

To everyone out there still deciding, please watch this film. It’s the real ‘Bang Bang’. I really hope it releases in Kashmir. Last I heard, my local cinema in Hawal Chowk was still an army bunker.

Haider Hussain Beig

A new Vishal Bhardwaj film is always cause for celebration. Even his weakest films have so much to savour, and in an industry so plagued by intellectual and creative bankruptcy, Bhardwaj is the rare filmmaker who could perhaps truly claim auteur status- he produces, directs, writes, composes- and does all of it with a style so distinctive and quixotic- there’s no mistaking his stamp. We’ve got to admit, we’re fanboys, and unashamedly so.

The much awaited trailer for Mr Bhardwaj’s new film ‘Haider’ has arrived along with a trio of posters. Haider is based on Hamlet and is the final film of his Shakespearean Trilogy (preceded by Maqbool and Omkara) and stars Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon among others (including Irrfan Khan in a special appearance).

Notably, Haider has been co-written with Kashmiri author and journalist Basharat Peer and also marks the filmmaker’s first collaboration with cinematographer Pankaj Kumar, who is best known for shooting Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus. Click here to read an interesting article about Peer’s collaboration with Bhardwaj.

Take a look at the trailer and posters and let us know what you think:

 

 

Bejoy Nambiar is ready with his new film, David. Interestingly, this film is in both Hindi and Tamil, and strangely, there’s a mismatch in the number of Davids in the two versions; while the Hindi one has three, Tamil version has only two Davids.

The hindi one has Vikram, Tabu, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vinay Virmani, Lara Dutta, Isha Sharvani and Monica Dogra in the lead. The Tamil version has almost the same cast but has Jeeva instead of Vinay and Neil.

First, the hindi trailer

And now, the Tamil Trailer

The trailers look very interesting. And though they don’t tell you much about the story but the visual montage looks powerful. What we saw in Shaitan, seems Nambiar is going to deliver more of it in this film – those slo-mo action sequences drenched in blood, rain and bullets. Also, the romantic portions bear a clear stamp of Ratnam-ish playfulness, and more so in the Tamil version.

And here are the two posters…

David Tamil Davivd Hindi

And the official synopsis (Hindi version)….

The story revolves around the lives of 3 Davids in 3 different parts of the world in 3 different eras.

1975 London- 30 year old David works for Iqbal Ghani, a dreaded Mafia don who controls the entire Asian community. He is a protege who is poised to take over the empire until a revelation which changes the course of his future.

1999 Mumbai- 19 year old David is a musician born into a family of devout Christians. A happy go lucky teenager who loses all semblance of his peaceful existence when his family gets dragged into a political issue.

2010 Goa – 40 year old David is a fisherman living in the small fishing village of Betul in Goa. He falls in love with the deaf and mute Roma- the only hitch is that she is engaged to be married to his best friend Peter in 10 days!

All 3 Davids are about to take a step which is going to change their lives forever.
3 LIVES, 3 DESTINIES, CONNECTED BY 1 NAME – ‘DAVID’.

And like everyone else, if you are still wondering about this 3 and 2 Davids, the director clarified about it to Anurag Kashyap on Twitter..

@ankash1009 the 3rd one (neil’s) didn’t fit into the tamil mileu. Would have had to re imagine it completely which was not feasible.

It’s been raining trailers and how! We are adding two new interesting trailers to the list. First one is Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi. Based on the book of the same name by Yann Martel. 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. Here’s the trailer which released today.

What’s wrong with the first 1min? Looks fake and poorly done. Rest of it looks magical. And Royal Bengal Tiger Mister Parker looks scary and delicious. There was a great buzz for its 3D at Cinema Con. We are waiting and how. In Ang Lee, we trust.

Click here to read the unofficial synopsis if you haven’t read the book.

The makers of Prague have just released the first teaser of the film. It really doesn’t say anything about the film but gives you its mood – Trippy is the keyword here. Click on the play button and enjoy.

Directed by debutant Ashish R Shukla, it stars Chandan Roy Sanyal, Arfi Lamba, Mayank Kumar, Sonia Bindra, Elena Kazan, Lucien Zell & Vaibhav Suman.

To know more about the film, click here.

 

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.

SPOILER

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.

SPOILER ENDS

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