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It Could Have Been Football: Actor Suraj Sharma

Actor: Suraj Sharma Photo credit: Visual Images by Tara Dey

Suraj Sharma, actor of ‘Life of Pi’, dreamt of being a football player when he was handed the script that made him one of the most loved actors in Hollywood. We met recently in Toronto, Canada for the screening of ‘Umrika’, where we shared french fries and talked about football and cricket. The actor who lived in New Delhi, India, surprised most when he daydreamed of making it big in the football world instead of following the dreams of most Indian boys – to become a cricketer. When Suraj was asked, “why not cricket?” he explained that even though he respects the game, he doesn’t like it because it “sucks out too much funding,” some of which he believes could go towards games like football, women’s hockey and tennis. Now, Suraj focuses on his acting career that boomed after he was granted, at the age of seventeen, a part in ‘Life of Pi’.

The young actor, who had no prior experience in acting, has no doubt that something bigger was at play when he was handed the script and asked to audition. After all, he was only accompanying his younger brother who was auditioning for the role. With the lack of pressure he simply read the script. Of 3,000 boys, Suraj was chosen to play the part of Piscine Molitor ‘Pi’ Patel in the American adventure-drama-based film from the award-winning novel by Yann Martel of the same name. Director, Ang Lee didn’t miss Suraj’s expressive eyes and his innocent appearance when he cast him as Pi. ‘Life of Pi’ became a Hollywood blockbuster, crossing the US $600 million mark worldwide at the box office. Suraj went on to act in ‘Million Dollar Arm’, a film based on a true story, ‘Umrika’ which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award, and the Showtime series ‘Homeland’, where he appeared in six episodes in the fourth season. ‘Burn Your Maps’, a Mongolian-American adventure comedy-drama film, schedule to be released in Suraj says that since every movie has had its own challenge, ‘Burn Your Maps’ is no different. He does, however, enjoy working on different roles, which nurtures his acting. He says that even though large-scale movies are a little more busy and exciting, the small-scale ones are more intimate, which is something he enjoys. Suraj encourages anyone who would like to pursue an acting career to, “go for it.” He says that bumps and hurdles should be expected but one should push forward and never lose hope. Suraj, who studied philosophy, says that he believes in doing good for others. He believes that goodness finds its way back to you when you’re kind. The young actor feels blessed to have a family that supports and keeps him grounded. “My mom is my biggest inspiration,” he said, “but if we are talking about actors, I would say it’s a tie between Robert De Niro and Naseeruddin Shah.” He currently lives in New York where he studies writing, directing and producing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. When he’s not in front of a camera, he enjoys architecture and landscape photography.

Photo credit: Visual Images by Tara Dey


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