Mumbai: Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee says Delhi boy Suraj Sharma had the innocence and depth of character required to play the lead role in his film ‘Life Of Pi’.
The 17-year-old, who lives with his mathematician parents in Delhi, has no previous acting experience and was cast following an extensive, months-long search. Over 3,000 young men auditioned for the part in the movie based on Yann Martel`s Man Booker Prize winning novel of the same name.
"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," Lee said in a statement.
"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.
"During his (Suraj) 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," he added.
The film is about a young man`s incredible adventure. His journey is 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 companion.
The film will begin production in January 2011 in India and Taiwan. Twentieth Century Fox will release it Dec 14, 2012. Lee will shoot ‘Life Of Pi’ in 3-D.
Lee is a prolific director and was nominated for an Oscar for directing ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and his ‘Sense and Sensibility’ too was nominated in the best picture category.
Spanish-born Canadian author Martel`s book has sold over seven million copies worldwide and continues to sell over 1,000 copies per week and was New York Times bestseller for over a year. He is happy his work is now being made into a movie.
"I`m thrilled that Ang is adapting `Life Of Pi` to a 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," said Martel in a statement.