The movie Life of Pi demonstrates India’s way of life and its cultural openness, a Taipei-based Indian diplomat said, adding that he hopes the film will help Taiwanese learn more about India and encourage them to visit the country.
Although Pi, the main character in the movie that hits theaters across the world today, was born into a Hindu family, he was free to experiment with Christianity and Islam, India-Taipei Association director-general Pradeep Kumar Rawat said in a recent interview.
“It shows the open-mindedness of Pi, but also of his family, which lets him experiment with these religions,” Rawat said.
It also shows that Indians go beyond what they believe is right and “keep their minds open to what could be right in other religions or belief systems,” he said. “That is what makes Indian civilization so rich, because over the centuries it has accepted influence from various other civilizations, from various other thought systems.”
The 46-year-old envoy recalled that when he was a child, there was a mosque 500m from his house and a temple across the street, adding that it is quite common in India for people of different religions and mother tongues to live in one compound.
He added that the 3D Hollywood film by Taiwanese director Ang Lee (李安) could prompt Taiwanese to explore the different sides of India.
Pondicherry, where Pi, played by Indian actor Suraj Sharma, is born and brought up, is a beautiful seaside city with predominantly French influence where one can find French architecture and food, he said.
“You can see a kind of mini-France, but if you step out a little bit from that, you can see a very traditional, rural-urban mix of India,” he said. “These two coexist and that is what you will see all over India.”
Riding on the high expectations of the film, the association has cooperated with local travel agencies to co-launch Life of Pi tours to India, which will begin next month.
The eight-day tours will include visits to world heritage sites and the locations in southern India where the movie was filmed, said the association, which is India’s de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
Meanwhile, Rawat described the film as a key part of exchanges between Taiwan and India.
He said many Taiwanese might not know about India’s economic products, but are able to name India’s “cultural products,” such as box office hit 3 Idiots.
“Cultural exchange is far more durable and it penetrates far deeper,” he said, adding that film is a powerful medium for bringing people together.