Ang Lee Interview Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee was in Chennai for the promotion of his magnum opus Life of Pi. A part of the film was shot in south India in Pondicherry and Munnar. In an exclusive quick chat to Sreedhar Pillai, Ang Lee opens up on Life of Pi, a 3D adventure film.
How did you choose Life of Pi ?
I didn’t choose it.. actually Yann Martel's novel of the same name chose me(smiles). It is a thought provoking novel. When you make a movie from a book it is important you should not get the language and words same. It is all about showing cinematic vision
Hollywood has always shied away from shooting in India saying that there are too many bureaucratic red tape and restrictions. Please comment
Since it is an Indian story, I was particular to shoot it in the actual locales. First and foremost you have to understand the country and its people and for that you have to come and explore. I did a thorough research and even went to temples and zoos in south India to get the right perspective. I feel without pain there is no gain. It was tremendous pleasure and a profound experience to do a film here. The Tamil culture in Pondicherry is one of the oldest and richest, which is highlighted in the film.
How difficult was it to shoot in India?
Before I started the shoot Sri Lanka was offered as an alternate location where they said I could shoot in peace. A lot of the film is Indian- the story, the cast, the technical crew so I was very particular that we remain faithful to the milieu. And believe me for the water ceremony scene there were 1600 extras who were well rehearsed.
You had employed even Indian cast and technicians. Tell us about your experience.
It was amazingly good working with Indian cast and a lot of the crew. The best part is that the technical crew knows filmmaking and also they know to speak in English. Most of the animation including the boy and Tiger scenes on a boat was done in Hyderabad and Mumbai. Working in India shooting and post-production animation work went off very well. It was a breeze.
There is already an Oscar buzz about Life of Pi…
(Smiles) It is early days. Let the film release on November 23 and audiences worldwide view it.