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Suraj Sharma didn't make it to the 2013 Oscar stage but the 19-year-old Life of Pi actor sure had a "miracle" moment. Ang Lee, holding his golden statuette for Best Director, looked at the audience and said, "Suraj, where are you?" As Sharma raised his hand, Lee said, "You're a miracle, playing the young Pi and carrying the movie... everyone of you in the cast... you're the golden statue in my heart." For Sharma's family, watching the Academy Awards on television in Bangalore, this was a moment for calm celebration.
"Ang is a wonderful person, ready to give credit. He's more than an artiste, he should get an award for leadership too. He shared his vision with so many people and guided them through a risky journey," says Shailaja Sharma, Suraj's mother, a corporate researcher. Neither she nor Suraj's father accompanied the actor to the ceremony in Los Angeles "because it is not necessary that we all go there". "In fact, when Suraj was going, I asked if he really had to, shouldn't he rather be in college (St Stephen's in Delhi) instead?
He was there on Ang's invitation, because the director felt he should be there on this day," she says. Monday was just another day for the Sharma family ó determined to stay away from the limelight, they went about their work though Shailaja admitted to being "horribly late". Neither was there a rush of phone calls from the family to the actor. "It is a busy moment for them, and emotionally too, there's so much going on inside them. There was also no need to speak to him," she says. The film, reportedly, required Suraj to lose 20 per cent of his body weight, spend hours in a water tank in Taiwan (without knowing swimming), and pretend that he was with a tiger. Was his family disappointed that Suraj was missing from the Oscar or Golden Globe lists, and had lost the BAFTA Rising Star Award to British actor Juno Temple? "You have to respect the fact that there are many deserving people out there. It's good if Suraj doesn't get his accolades too early. He has to work hard for what he deserves. Life of Pi was a huge acting challenge and Suraj was in the hands of a very good director who brought out his acting potential to the fullest," says Shailaja. As of now, she's waiting for Suraj to return to India ó and go back to college.