Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent):
Even though he was born in Taiwan, Ang Lee has directed some memorable British and American movies. These include his 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Sense and Sensibility, and, in the United States, Hulk, the Academy Award-winning Brokeback Mountain, and Taking Woodstock. For his latest movie Ang Lee has chosen an Indian story. Life of Pi is about an Indian boy, Pi Patel, whose family own a zoo. The family decides to transport the zoo to Canada by sea, but the ship sinks. Most of the animals and the humans drown, but Pi and a wild tiger survive, and they must learn to live together on a lifeboat. Pi is played by an unknown Indian actor called Suraj Shama. Ang Lee explained why he picked him:
Ang Lee (Chinese accent):
Working with Suraj remind(s) me of some kind of talent, it seems like his last lives were (spent) doing acting. All you have to do is not training, you know? The training is really about awak(en)-ing him, remind(ing) him of what he used to know. He’s so natural to be in front of the camera. I was worried in the training sequence, he didn’t swim and (had) never act(ed) before, and not the most disciplined kid in India! That being said, we spent three months in Taichung, go(ing) through the drill, the boot camp, everything. Once the camera (is) rolling, you see Pi comes alive.
Suraj Shama then gave his version of how he got the part:
Suraj Shama (Indian accent)
They were holding auditions in my city, in Delhi, and my brother kind of had to go for the auditions, he wanted to go for the auditions, and I was there, but I was just accompanying him. I was going to go have lunch after and they said that, “You should give it a shot because you’re the appropriate age." And I said, “Sure, yeah, I mean, I’m not doing anything else right now, I’m just whiling away my time!” So I just gave it and then they called me back again and again, it kept happening. And six months later I had to go to Bombay and meet Ang and meet the producer and then, you know, the final audition happened there and, yeah, I got the role!