By Karen Valby
Updated October 26, 2010 at 01:24 PM EDT

According to Variety, 17-year-old Suraj Sharma, a student who lives with his academic parents in Delhi, India, has beat out 3,000 other men for the coveted starring role in Ang Lee’s next film, Life of Pi. Sharma will play the hero from Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, a boy lost at sea for 227 days, marooned in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan. Lee took the helm of the project, which M. Night Shyamalan was once attached to, last year. Fox is planning a December 2012 release date.