Ang Lee casts 17-year-old Indian boy Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi

MUMBAI: Academy Award winning director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain) has finally zeroed in on an actor who will portray the lead role in his ambitious film Life of Pi.

Lee has cast 17-year-old newcomer Suraj Sharma to essay the role of Pi. Suraj lives with his Mathematician parents in Delhi and has no previous acting experience. He was cast following an extensive search where over 3000 young men auditioned for the part.

The film will begin production in January 2011 in India and Taiwan. Twentieth Century Fox will release the film on 14 December, 2012.

Lee, whose many other honors include an Oscar nomination for his direction of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and whose Sense and Sensibility was a Best Picture nominee, will shoot Life of pi in 3D, utilizing groundbreaking techniques to capture the story’s epic scope.

Life of Pi is based on Yann Martel’s beloved book, one of the biggest publishing events of the past decade. The book has sold over seven million copies worldwide and continues to sell over 1,000 copies per week and has won the Mann Booker Prize, and was a New York Times bestseller for over a year.

Yann Martel said, “I’m thrilled that Ang is adapting Life of Pi to film. He’s a brilliant, versatile director, with a stunning visual sensibility. He can capture the most intimate emotion as well as the most dynamic action. He’s the perfect filmmaker to bring Pi’s epic journey to the screen.”

Life of Pi will take the audience through a young man’s incredible adventure – at turns thrilling and spiritual; joyous and harrowing; humorous and tragic. Audiences will follow Pi Patel as he travels from an exotic zoo in India on a voyage across the Pacific, where he survives a shipwreck and is cast adrift in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger as his only company. Adrift in an endess expanse of ocean, Pi struggles to survive and train his companion, landing on a magical island that offers the two their only respite on their desperate journey.

Lee said, “It has been a daunting and exciting process to develop a motion picture that brings Yann Martel’s fascinating, mind-boggling story to the big screen. Casting the sixteen-year old Pi was particularly challenging. We searched throughout India for a young man who had the innocence to capture our attention, the depth of character to break our hearts, and the physicality needed to embody Pi on his journey.”

“Suraj is Pi,” Lee continued. “During his audition, he filled the room with emotion, much of which he conveyed simply through his eyes. His natural ability to believe and stay in the world of the story is a rare treasure.”

Fox Star Studios India CEO Vijay Singh said, "We are hugely excited that Ang is adapting the international best -seller Life of PI. The fact that it will project Indian talent on the global platform makes it doubly special. We are glad to have the young and talented Suraj Sharma on board for this exciting project. With it’s thrilling plot and groundbreaking 3D techniques, Life of Pi will be a hugely anticipated film in India."

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