Suraj Sharma was born in New Delhi, India. His parents are Malayalis, they hail from Kerala. Suraj is a student of philosophy at St Stephen’s college in New Delhi.  He has completed schooling from Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, where he was described as a popular student. Before the role, he had no acting experience, and auditioned only because he was there with his younger brother Shriharsh Sharma who requested he come along. He was one of the 3,000 actors to audition for the role of Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi). Sharma went through several rounds of auditions before winning the part. Director Ang Lee has stated that he selected Sharma primarily based on his expressive eyes and innocent appearance. According to him, Sharma had not only the emotion, but also the “look” of Pi. His “medium complexion” and “average build” were deemed perfect for the role.