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‘Life of Pi’ Production Assistant: Lee a ‘Perfectionist’

On the set of 'Life of Pi' in Pondicherry, India

Venus Upadhayaya
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 25, 2013 Last Updated: February 27, 2013
Related articles: Arts & Entertainment » Movies & TV
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Director Ang Lee, awarded best director for 'Life of Pi,' poses in the press room during the Oscars held at Loews Hollywood Hotel on Feb. 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. A set production designer in Pondicherry, India, got his big break working on "Life of Pi" and describes life on the set, including working with Lee. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Director Ang Lee, awarded best director for 'Life of Pi,' poses in the press room during the Oscars held at Loews Hollywood Hotel on Feb. 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. A set production designer in Pondicherry, India, got his big break working on "Life of Pi" and describes life on the set, including working with Lee. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

PONDICHERRY, India—Bagalvan Perier was studying in the media department at Pondicherry University in southern India when he was asked to be an on-set translator for the “Life of Pi” team—his big break. 

Within a week, he became the set production assistant, and even—to his great surprise and delight—got to give director Ang Lee some hurried advice. 

“One day when I was standing next to Ang Lee,” Perier recalled, “he suddenly asked me, ‘Will this frame work?’ I was stunned. A director like him was asking a starter like me. I blurted out, ‘This is a very good frame.’”

Lee was “cool and calm” on the set, Perier said; he didn’t show anger or perturbation when things went amiss. 

“He is a perfectionist,” Perier said. “He wants perfection even from his background artists.”

Lee would call a translator over and patiently explain the details of the mistakes.

The background artists were numerous—about 6,000 in Pondicherry, Perier said—and even included 400 local school children. 

Set Production Assistant Bagalvan Perier (R) with a translator on the 'Life of Pi' set in Pondicherry, India. (Courtesy of Bagalvan Perier)

Set Production Assistant Bagalvan Perier (R) with a translator on the 'Life of Pi' set in Pondicherry, India. (Courtesy of Bagalvan Perier)

The lead actor, Suraj Sharma, had very few scenes in Pondicherry, Perier said, but Perier recalls Sharma often lingering on set long after his scenes were done to stand aside and watch everything going on. 

Tara MacIsaac contributed to this report.

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