"Life of Pi" teen star lives out his own fairy tale

Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:13am EDT
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Suraj Sharma went from being a regular teenager growing up in New Delhi to starring in Ang Lee's big-screen adaptation of the bestselling novel "Life of Pi".

The 17-year-old Sharma was picked from more than 3,000 hopefuls to play Pi, an Indian boy who finds himself stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days with a Bengal Tiger.

Now 19, Sharma spoke to Reuters about the film, which opens in cinemas next month, acting with a computer-generated tiger and why "Life of Pi" may well be his first and last role.

Q: How did this film come about?

A: "I have been born and brought up in Delhi and my brother has acted in a couple of films. The auditions happened and the casting director was my brother's friend and he's been close to my family for a while. I went for the auditions with my brother for moral support ... I didn't really want to act, but I don't know, it happened. They kept calling me back. And then they called and said you have to come to Mumbai to meet 'Dao Yan'. I call Mr Lee Dao Yan."

Q: Yes, I noticed that. What does it mean?

A: "It means Mr Director in Chinese. I don't like calling him Ang, there is something not respectful about that ... Two weeks later, they said 'hey, Suraj you have to come to Taiwan'. Funnily enough even then I didn't believe I had got the role. It's very difficult to believe. You don't think things like that can happen to you."

Q: What was shooting in Taiwan like?   Continued...

Cast member Suraj Sharma (L) and Director Ang Lee attend the opening night gala presentation of film "Life Of Pi" at the 50th New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall in New York September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly