Question : Why did the magic negro cross the road in a boat?
Answer: to get to the other side of course.
Pi crosses over through Canada into India. The Cast is entirely Indian (Tabu Irfan khan and Pondicherry looking like madagascar) Nandita das….With this collection of house nig…er…Indians , all together, Diwali must have come early at the plantation, and it indeed seems so in this plush CGI telling of the unfilmable Canadian novel, filmed somewhat jerkily (tear-jerkily?) by the Hong kong American director Ang lee (crouching… brokeback…) whose ability to twist a CGI wirefu tale is myth0logical .
Ang lee, it must be said, to be fair to him, is unfamiliar with the “magic negro” narrative style*which the Canadian cult classic novel by Yann Martel borrowed to make a pan national narrative for all displaced peoples, and so , in his hands, the film becomes a somewhat personal note of reassurance to the boat people refugees , plentiful in his part of the world, of the existence of a cosmic Vishnu who shows himself to you when you are alone in a boat with a tiger.
Ang lee, serves, however to fill the role of Hollywood’s useful idiot-savant making the pitch to the unattached South Indian making films. You are a tiger taming Giant killing refuge to my land. Listen to my stories, because I hear yours and can give you your personal Vishnu…
Yes this is how little the medium and the industry understands in its impatient Joycean sales pitch. Indians always had their personal Vishnu. It is not gods that the Indians lack. What Hollywood is selling is useless, except as an Oscar awards sideshow to the indian identity. It is AUTONOMY Indians need (especially Indians- and The Ang lee hollywood film has just finished characterizing them as boat people…. )…. something Hollywood neither has the luxury of being able to give, nor can AFFORD to give to the viewing audience in its thrall.
Now if only the dead yash chopra had learnt this soon enough.
Word of advice to people making films for those who have seen real tigers: CGI tigers don’t even come close. Not even to the ones in nightmares.