“Tiger Tiger, burning bright, In the forests of the night”, wrote poet William Blake in 1974, creating one of the most well-accepted popular culture references to the majestic animal. Ever since, and even before this, the tiger has always found a home in the world of art, literature, and cinema.
1) In Ang Lee’s film adaptation of the wonderful Life of Pi by Yann Martel, the relationship between the young castaway Pi Patel and Richard Parker, a gorgeous CGI Bengal tiger, is brought out in the most beautiful and moving way. Man and beast can survive together, clearly, as the duo do for weeks on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean.
2) You can’t have a list of tigers in popular culture without thinking of cartoonist Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. The timeless strips of the mischievous kid Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes who comes to life in the child’s mind will forever have a place in the childhood of millions.
3) The new Jungle Book by Jon Favreau sure does justice to Kiping’s version of the ominous and terrifying Shere Khan. But in the original 1967 The Jungle Book version by Disney, Shere will be remembered as the cool but mean tiger, who is feared by all and fears only two things: man and fire. And whether you prefer the past or the present, Shere Khan will always be Shere Khan.
4) If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Jim Corbett’s work, now is as good a time as any to start. From The Man-eaters of Kumaon to The Temple Tiger, his numerous books as a conservationist and hunter of man-eating tigers in India are certainly worth a read to understand the animal itself as well as Corbett’s experiences.
5) Unlike Corbett’s tigers, one of the cutests tigers in popular culture is the friendly and not at all scary Tigger from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories, who is always cheerful and bound to make you smile, regardless of how old you are.