Star Suraj Sharma chats about Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi'

Life of Pi

Life of Pi (Credit: Actor Suraj Sharma attends the Special Screening for "Life Of Pi"(Getty))

Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" is the most ambitious movie of the year, a complicated 3-D adaptation of Yann Martel's novel about a shipwrecked Indian teen stranded in the Pacific on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

The movie, which opens tomorrow, violates multiple unwritten rules of filmmaking, Lee has repeatedly said. It prominently children and animals, and it's largely set on water.

But the Oscar winner ("Brokeback Mountain"), who worked on the film for four years, wasn't the only one dealing with enormous obstacles on set.

First-time actor Suraj Sharma, a Delhi university student, survived multiple rounds of intense auditions and bested many competitors to win the part. Soon after, the philosophy major, who only came to the initial audition as "moral support" for his actor brother, found himself at the center of an immense project.

"I knew it was a big thing, but I tried not thinking about it," says Sharma, 19. "When I'm under pressure, I would not have done as well as I could."

More than the rehearsing or arduous physical training, Sharma says his success in this improbable film, as a first-timer playing opposite an imaginary tiger on a small boat, is a tribute to Lee.

"It was more than just an actor-director relationship," Sharma says. "He became really close to me. ... I really felt secure in that I didn't feel pressure. I said, 'Ok, these guys are trusting me with this, and I should just give it everything I have.'"


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