Born: March 21, 1993
Date of Birth: March 21, 1993
Surja was born and raised in New Delhi, India. His father is a software engineer and his mother is an economist. He went to Sardar Patel Vidyalaya School where he was considered a popular student. With no prior acting experience, he was one of 3,000 actors who auditioned for the role of Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi), the boy stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days with a Bengal tiger. Suraj, 17 at the time, went through several rounds of callbacks before winning the part.
Director Ang Lee said he selected Suraj primarily because of his expressive eyes and innocent appearance – Suraj had not only emotions, but also the “look” of Pi. For the role, Suraj had acting coaching and had to lose 20 per cent of his body weight in order to portray the malnourished castaway. He spent 10 months in Taiwan training to act opposite an imaginary tiger, four hours a day swimming and learned to stay underwater for more than a minute.
For his role as Pi, Suraj received a Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Youth in Film, as well as an MTV Movie Award and a Saturn Award.
After completing Life of Pi, Suraj returned to studying philosophy at Delhi University’s St. Stephen’s College. However, he wanted to continue working in filmmaking in some capacity and enrolled in the Mass Communication program at New York University.
In April 2013, Suraj landed the role of Rinku Singh, a baseball pitcher, in the Disney film Million Dollar Arm. The biographical sports drama is based on the true story of two baseball players discovered by sports agent J. B. Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) after winning a reality show competition.
Suraj will also be seen in a Hindi film called Umrika about a young Indian boy whose brother has gone missing. He starts writing letters on his brother’s behalf to save their mother from heartbreak, while searching for his missing brother.
In real life, Suraj has a younger brother and a sister.
Million Dollar Arm (2014)
Life of Pi (2012)