Newcomer Suraj Sharma Cast as Lead in Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI

     October 25, 2010


It looks like the film adaptation of Yann Martel’s acclaimed novel Life of Pi is finally going into production.  Director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) joined the continually troubled project early last year, and after an exhausting worldwide casting search he’s found his star.  Seventeen-year-old newcomer Suraj Sharma beat out three thousand other young men who auditioned for the titular role of a boy stranded at sea for 227 days with a tiger.

Last we heard, Lee was at odds over the budget of the 3D film with Fox 2000.  One would assume that those details have been hammered out, as Variety reports that principal photography is set to begin in January in Taiwan and India in order to have the film ready for a Dec. 14, 2012 release date.  This will be Lee’s first time using 3D, from a script by David Magee (Finding Neverland).  For a description of the story, and a bit more on the flick, hit the jump.

life_of_pi_book_cover_01The film adaptation of Life of Pi has gone through a laundry list of directors over the years, including Alfonso Cuarón, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and M. Night Shyamalan (thank God he moved on).  Lee is one of the most versatile directors working today, and I gotta say I’m intrigued to see what he’s got planned for Pi.  He’s one of the few directors of whom I have absolutely no idea as to how his next film will look.  Each flick in his anthology seems to be drastically different stylistically, tonally, and thematically from the previous one.  (He went from Crouching Tiger, to Hulk, to Brokeback Mountain in five years.)  The addition of the 3D element and the purported numerous visual effects make things even more interesting (though I can’t help but have nightmarish flashbacks to the aforementioned CGI-heavy Hulk).  Nevertheless, it’s nice to see this film finally moving forward.  I have a feeling Lee’s got at least one more Brokeback or Crouching Tiger level masterwork in him, and the caliber of the source material alone definitely gives this production a leg up.

A description of Life of Pi, via Amazon:

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional–but is it more true?



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