iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Vijay Dutt, PTI
London, December 25, 2003
Last year' Booker Prize winner Life of Pi, about a young Indian boy adrift on the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, a Zebra, a Hyena and an Orang-utan, is to be made into a film by 20th Century Fox.

M Night Shyamalan

It has been apparently inspired by the huge success of Gurinider Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham, which it promoted into a £21 million US hit. Fox, anxious to get the production right for Life of Pi is securing Indian hotshot moviemaker, M Night Shyamalan. He is to adapt, direct and produce the film. It is a coincidence that Shyamalan, 33, was born in Pondicherry where the book's hero Pi Patel hails from.

In the story Pi's family flees an unstable India, where his father runs a zoo, aboard a Canada-bound cargo ship. Pi is shipwrecked and drifts in, or attached to, a lifeboat for 227 days.

Elizabeth Gabler, a Fox executive, said the material is very challenging and Night is a filmmaker who is always looking for a new challenge. She said: "There are also some similarities to Pi Patel and Night. Pi is an immigrant and child who left his homeland and found his way to a new country, and Night was also a boy who left India to find his way to this country (US)."

Shyamalan hit the jackpot and became a celebrity following the phenomenal success of The Sixth Sense, a supernatural thriller with Bruce Wilis in the starring role. The film was the second biggest money earner in 1999. He had turned down an Indiana Jones movie with Harrison Ford as well as an offer to direct the third Harry Potter film in order to be able to make Signs with Mel Gibson.

A film critic here said that Shyamalan with his "real and sixth sense about Pondicherry and the Indian psyche" could turn Life of Pi into another major success and money earner.