For the love of Pi

Mon Dec 10,2012

Suraj Sharma and Shravanthi Sainath, the two young stars of LIFE OF PI, had no inkling of what lay ahead for them when they showed up at a casting call. With no previous acting experience, Sharma and Sainath are now household names in their home country India and are enjoying the attention that has followed since the release of the film, directed by the Oscar-winning director Ang Lee.

“I hadn’t even planned on auditioning,” said the 19-year-old Sharma, who had accompanied his younger brother. Six months later, he was informed he would be playing the lead character, Pi Patel, from Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel.

“As we went on, I wanted it more and more,” the Delhi-based teenager says, explaining that by the time he got to the last audition, he was so nervous his “hands were shaking”. When he forgot his lines, he thought he had lost his chance but then “Ang directed me for the first time”.

“I was nervous, yes, scared, yes and excited,” he says, describing his initial reaction to landing the role. “I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t know if I could act. I don’t know if I can act.”

For him, the entire film has been a life-changing experience and when he looks at his life before becoming Pi: “I feel like I was stuck in a box. I didn’t know what was out there in the world. I had never been out of my country. I didn’t know what I could do.”

For Sainath, the film has fulfilled her with a sense of achievement. With no foretelling of a grand international debut comparable only to the launch of Dev Patel and Freida Pinto’s careers through SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, the 17-year-old actress, was selected in Chennai, where the film’s team was in search of a Tamil girl familiar with the classical south Indian dance form of Bharatnatyam.

With the doors now potentially open to a future in cinema, Sharma and Sainath are both keen on remaining in film – as actors or even behind the camera

“I just want to be on set,” says Sharma.

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