Based on the novel by Yann Martel, the 3D adventure drama film, Life Of Pi earned accolades from around the world for not only its visual effects but also for the beautiful depiction of the most humane story ever. If Yann Martel deserves applause for his literary genius, Ang Lee too deserves appreciation for his impeccable story telling skills. Suraj Sharma, Tabu, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain made India proud with their stellar performances in the film. But the question that haunts every Indian cinephile is that despite having immensely talented professionals, what is it that lacks when it comes to making films of Life Of Pi likes.
Why films like Life Of Pi not made in India?
The Genre Issue
The Indian shore is well-known for its folklore. We have had Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha, Shiri-Farhad-esque stories filling our childhood. And since then, romance, song-dance and melodrama have been an integral part of our lives. This is deemed to be a major reason why Indian filmmakers are apprehensive of making films like Life Of Pi. Switching genres is much like sailing in a cyclone and you’d definitely want to avoid it.
In this field it certainly does!
Our films that are galore in song and dance sell very well abroad as well as in India. People have developed a like towards commercial films. These films don’t cost much to the filmmakers. In fact the amount of budget that they invest in these films is very less compared to Life Of Pi-esque films that are close to costing you $100 million! In the budget of $100 million it is highly possible to make 6 DDLJ’s or even 10 Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s.
The film Life Of Pi was overtly spiritual despite being high on adventure. It wasn’t a typical masala flick which audience would wish to watch. Being highly intellectual it was made for the urban audience and was less likely to appease the masses sitting in the rural regions of the country. If the Indian filmmakers involved themselves with making such a film there is a possibility that it might release in the limited theatres and the amount earned will hardly cover the production cost. Marketing such a film will be a problem, a huge one, because it is neither a franchise nor a film based on any comic. Even the executive, Elizabeth Gilbert, from 20th Century Fox who oversaw the production of the film believed that it was the “biggest gamble” she has ever taken.
The Third Dimension
Adding the third dimension to a spiritual tale and disguising it as an adventure story was the biggest difficulty that Ang Lee faced. “I thought this was a pretty impossible movie to make technically. It’s so expensive for what it is. You sort of have to disguise a philosophical book as an adventure story. I thought of 3-D half a year before ‘Avatar’ was on the screen. I thought water, with its transparency and reflection, the way it comes out to you in 3-D, would create a new theatrical experience and maybe the audience or the studio would open up their minds a little bit to accept something different,” stated Lee. Making something as difficult as this or even fleeting thought is impossible in India. A country where we have to import the martial art professionals to direct our action and summon the VFX guys from abroad to do the VFX, investing in machineries to add 3D to films is a distant dream.
However, we hope that in near future, this dream no more remains distant.