Life of Pi & The Cinema of the Future

One of the running issues I have with my mentor GD is my resistance to his vision of cinema and television. He feels strongly that the entertainment of the future will be more and more rooted in higher consciousness. And I, with my nose closer to the current box-office numbers, audience metrics and television ratings points, feel he’s deluded from being around the tiny community of spiritual seekers. He doesn’t know about what mass audiences really want, I think, he’s just finding proof for his own beliefs.

But these days, I am beginning to think he may be right. And if you don’t believe me: see this stunning trailer for Cloud Atlas.

Watching the extended trailer of the Wachowski brothers’ ‘Cloud Atlas’ makes me wonder if the mainstream is broadening. With its massive cast, ‘Cloud Atlas’ feels like the ‘Love Actually’ of spiritual cinema. And the logline – about how one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution – makes me want to hallelujah!On television today, American dramas like ‘Heroes’ and Kiefer Sutherland’s ‘Touch’ convey a message of interconnectedness. British reality shows like ‘Undercover Boss’ and ‘The Secret Millionaire’ connect us with the joy of pure giving. Weekdays at prime time, I watch a show called ‘Mentalist’ that uses the detective genre to talk about the unseen world.

Not that uplifting, paradigm-challenging themes were not around earlier – my all-time favorite remains Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ made in 1946 – but don’t they just seem to be coming back bigger and bigger every year? I guess it doesn’t get any bigger than James Cameron’s magical, eco-spiritual parable ‘Avatar’.

Then there’s ‘The Life of Pi’ by Ang Lee coming out in December. Stranded on his little boat with a Bengal tiger for 227 days after a shipwreck, young Pi wonders about profound questions: Is there a god? How can he be so unjust? Why is life and nature so random? Why am I here? Not the kind of answers you would expect out of a big studio film.

With such amazing films coming soon to a multiplex near me, I thought it would be wise to ask GD once again what is his vision for cinema of the future – and for the first time to hear him out without arguing!

“The new paradigm of cinema is about transcending the human self.” GD says. “In the old days, the closest movies could get to that was romantic love – not even soul-mates, just earth-mates. But now it is about connecting with the higher self. That translates on screen as unconditional love, oneness, service, living life fully, and seeing our life as maya, a temporary illusion. It has many expressions, but fundamentally it boils down to whether a film is supporting mass consciousness or transcending it. Without preaching or sermonizing, this new cinema will break all the ‘boxes’ and limitations we as a species have imposed on ourselves.”

It’s interesting that we are at a point in history when the biggest hit in Bollywood cinema is the comedy ‘Three Idiots’ which talks about breaking out of the social pressure of chasing success and listening to your inner voice. And the biggest hit worldwide is ‘Avatar’ which is about breaking out of human conditioning and listening to the timeless ancestral wisdom. Below is a chart with some of my favourite movies with spiritual themes – I avoided docus like ‘The Secret’ or ‘What the Bleep’ to show how much it is not a new age phenomenon anymore.

And now, if you will excuse me, I think I’ll go and complete that spiritual film script I had left unfinished! 🙂