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Both. Most of the shots were CGI effects, however there were four real life tigers that were used for some filming. In an interview with NPR, Suraj Sharma said that he was never in the boat with a real tiger and didn't even get close to one.
If you liked the shipwrecked aspect, you may enjoy All Is Lost (2013), Cast Away (2000), Waterworld (1995), Robinson Crusoe (1997), or The Black Stallion (1979). If you liked the relationship between the boy and his tiger, you may enjoy The Jungle Book (1994), of which there are several adaptions. If you liked the Indian culture, you may enjoy the equally critically acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire (2008) or any number of Bollywood movies. If you liked the portrayal of nature, you may enjoy the BBC TV Documentaries 'Planet Earth' (2006) or 'Life' (2009+). If you liked the showcasing of tigers and zoos, you may enjoy We Bought a Zoo (2011), Duma (2005), or Deux frères (Two Brothers) (2004). If you liked the spectacular visuals and the story telling, you may also enjoy The Fall (2006). If you liked the director's work, you may enjoy Ang Lee's previous works: Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) (2000) or Brokeback Mountain (2005). If you liked the comparison and debate about real-life events versus possibly fictional and elaborate stories, you may enjoy Big Fish (2003). Some users also draw comparisons to The Tree of Life (2011) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Certainly, the use of wide, open spaces and fantastic visuals are present in both.
The exact cause of sinking, it remains unknown. Neither the book or movie show what exactly caused the ship to sink as this is out of the question. If you read the last page of the Life of Pi novel, you will see the written report which states some possible causes but the exact cause is not known as this is out of the question. Another possibility is that Pi left the door open and it filled in with water.
It's not certain, but the two most likely answers are: 1: something went wrong with the engine
2: the crew was drunk and fooling around and did something to damage the boat
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