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November 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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He may have shot to fame in one of the year's most anticipated films, but the 19-year-old Indian star of "Life of Pi" appears to be having less luck with his academic career.

Suraj Sharma beat 3,000 other hopefuls when he was 17 to play the lead role in the Ang Lee-directed movie, but promoting the film around the world means he looks set to lose a year at his New Delhi college.

The first-year philosophy student missed his first examination on Wednesday and has been denied admission to appear for an exam Friday after apparently failing to produce assignments, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

"We all want to help him out. I was told he never submitted his assignments. He in turn says he lost them," said vice principal Clement Rajkumar at the elite St Stephen's College in the Indian capital.

In the film released this week, Sharma stars as Pi Patel, who travels from a zoo in India across the Pacific, where he survives a shipwreck and is cast adrift in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger for company.

Shot in India and Taiwan, the 3D flick is based on the bestselling book by Yann Martel that won the Man Booker Prize in 2002.

Sharma, who had no previous acting experience, has described the experience as a "life-changing journey".

"Everything was so new and different and there was so much to learn. It completely changed who I am," he told the Hindustan Times.

Lee, who won a best director Oscar for his gay cowboy romance "Brokeback Mountain" in 2006, said this month the film "depends" on its young star Sharma.

"I would not shoot the film if it weren't for this person and his talent," said the Taiwanese-born American filmmaker.


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