Unfair to show darker side of India: Oscar-winning director

Unfair to show darker side of India: Oscar-winning director

Taiwanese-born American director Ang Lee says he has tried to portray a "real" India in his film 'Life of Pi' and maintained that it is high time that Asians offered some fresh and universal ideas to Hollywood.

Lee feels the West has dried up on emotions. "They are pretty dried up on emotions in the West now. Hollywood has been mainly dominated by Europe and Americans and it is high time that Asians offer something. The movie business always looks for fresh, specific things and they also look for something universal," the filmmaker told PTI.

"Indian movies are fresh and they are pretty new... but for Hollywood film-making you have to go beyond specific and find universal idea for everybody, that's how it works," he added.

The 58-year-old filmmaker insisted that extremes like glorifying India or showing its darker side should be avoided, in the context of Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning film 'Slumdog Millionaire', which had shown poverty and slum life in India.

"I think either ways it is unfair (to show darker side or glorify India) as Indians are in the middle. If some outsider comes he or she will take or show what they need or like. I tried to justify the realism... tried to show real the India," Lee said.

"I tried to make it realistic. People come here for specific reasons and do what they like. But I feel it is unfair to show it (darker side)," he said.

The Oscar-winning director is here to promote his India-centric film, which largely has an Indian cast including lead actor Suraj Sharma, selected out of 3,000 teenagers, besides Irrfan Khan and Tabu.

The film is shot in 3D and Lee has explored the markets and temples of Puducherry and Munnar, a popular hill station in Kerala.

'Life of Pi' is based on Canadian author Yann Martel's Booker Prize winning novel. "I felt the book had inherent material that romances and idealises India in a very specific way.

It is the allegory that India is."

Lee revealed that the author is quite excited about the film. "He was involved a lot. And he seems to be excited. It is an inspiring book. But I think everything is my interpretation.

I think the movie stands on its own. So far people have not compared it to the book."

If one has seen the film's trailer one will get a sense of how difficult it would have been to create the slick special effects, the animated tiger and shooting underwater, he said.

"I did a lot of research and then I started to think about how I would be structuring the film. I spent time on visualisation and computer animation. I must say the virtual set in the computer is very helpful to give perspective to move things around."

"As far as this movie is concerned I have tried to be more traditional. I wanted it to look real," Lee maintained.

The film centres on Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) who is raised in Puducherry, where his family runs a zoo. They decide to immigrate to Canada, taking the animals alongwith them on a huge freighter ship. But a terrible storm destroys the ship, and only Pi survives on a stranded lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

Talking about the lead actors, Lee said, "Irrfan is an amazing talent. He is one actor who will surprise you with each scene. Tabu is equally awesome."

"I have done my best. I hope people like it. I have worked with Indian consultants, Indian crew and cast. I have tried to keep things as real as I could. I hope nobody raises eyebrows," said the filmmaker, who is behind genre-defying movies like 'Sense and Sensibility', 'Hulk' and 'Brokeback Mountain'.

The India promotions of 'Life of Pi' kick started on Monday with Lee presenting 20 minutes of exclusive footage from the film to the media and a host of Bollywood celebrities. The film releases in 3D in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on November 23.

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