This movie falls in the realm of fantasy and hard realism; something in the twilight zone of Paul Coelho’s Alchemist’s spiritual conquest and Bear Grylls true adventures in the wild. If there is allusion to spiritualism it is for you to judge but there is unmistakable aura surrounding this eventful narrative. A business minded family deeply fragmented by business pragmatism and religious world reaches a flash point where the easy equilibrium, the cozy lifestyle is suddenly disturbed for the worst. A decisive point in life for family to take a call to define their future and they do so. The father of protagonist, a zoo owner in Pondicherry winds up his business and sets out to migrate to Canada. They undertake their journey in a Japanese cargo ship so that animals a can also be transported. The major part of events take place after ship break in a fiery storm over the Altlantic. The narrative zigzags in Gulzaresque flashback style.
It opens with the protagonist now a wizened adult in Canada narrating his experience to the writer and the flashbacks happen during this conversation. Ang Lee succeeds in capturing Indian ethos, brings alive nuances of his early childhood as a curious young fellow. The compacted childhood nicely builds up character of the young hero, a bewildered young man in awe of the sublime. The meaty portion of the movie is all about special effects and apparently no expense was spared to recreate marine experience. The building up of relationship between the young fellow and the beast is done with finesse and subtlety. The floating island scene creates metaphor for search of spiritual mysticism. Also the incredulous response of Japanese investigators to his real experience, trying to unravel drowning of the cargo vessel and his quickly thought up fictitious story to make it palatable adds another set of mysticism.
I will not judge its production value for I seriously suspect substandard projection facility at Big Cinema, the bright sun appears fudgy as if a low resolution frame is exploded to fill up the space, the 3D effect at places unhinges all apparently fault of the theater. Overall a joyful experience with ‘paisa vasool’ and free popcorn.
I would rate this film four stars out of five stars