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.
Though he has kept stardom on the periphery, Sharma has got used to dressing up, especially for the red carpet. “I put on what any teenager would for college. But, before the Golden Globe awards, I went to an Armani store in LA and they had four outfits laid out. I chose one, it met with my publicist’s approval and we went with it,” he says. For the BAFTA, he will wear a Dolce and Gabbana suit but has no idea what to wear for the Oscars on February 25.
Life of Pi has garnered 11 Oscar nominations, but none for Sharma. “While making the film, all that Ang Lee, the crew and the cast could think about was that the film had to be made. The audience has accepted the film and that’s the real reward,” he says. He adds that the toughest competition for Life of Pi is Lincoln in which “Daniel Day-Lewis has killed it”. The film buff hasn’t watched too many films in the past year because he has been busy travelling but he recently caught a show of David. As for his own career, there’s nothing after Life of Pi yet. “One gets offers all the time but I haven’t signed anything. One has to choose,” he says before signing off with a line that would make a great acceptance speech: “It is what you have inside you that makes an actor”.