Life after Pi

February is the month of the 'Big Awards' for 19-year-old Suraj Sharma. Today, the Life of Pi star is up against four actors for a BAFTA for the Rising Star. "I feel super excited about being nominated because I've never been nominated for many things in life," he says over phone. Sharma speaks with a mix of sincerity and naivete, traits that made him perfect as Piscine Molitor Patel or Pi, a serious and religious boy who is stranded in an ocean for months with only a Royal Bengal Tiger for company.

Sharma is up against four formidable actors — Andrea Riseborough, Elizabeth Olsen, Juno Temple and Alicia Vikander for the BAFTA. Has he checked out the competition? "Yes, I have checked them out," he says with a laugh, "Basically, I've read up on them. Let's just say I could be in trouble." The next moment, he turns serious, almost reflective: "I'm kind of feeling sad because the process of making Life of Pi that started three years ago is finally ending with all the award ceremonies. Awards are the last stage of the journey. The film, of course, will always be a part of my life," says Sharma.

He says he's determined to keep his life normal. "I get a little more attention but I still take the Metro all the time, play football and basketball at Siri Fort and hang out with friends. Fortunately, I am quite stealthy and don't get recognised very often," he says. His college, St Stephens, has treated him "normally" and his family is "proud" but there are moments when people he knows (and some strangers) insist on taking pictures with him. "It feels awkward but it also means that they liked the movie so that's a good thing," he says.

A few months ago, Sharma won a Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award ("my first for acting and I was surprised and humbled"), which made his "mother very happy". "It also made my friends very proud and I had to take them out to dinner at Hauz Khas Village," he says.

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