Director Ang Lee is convinced divine intervention led him to casting a non-actor as the lead in his hit epic Life Of Pi - because Suraj Sharma was only at the auditions on a dinner promise.

The newcomer agreed to accompany his actor brother to the try-outs and he was stunned when the casting director suggested he audition too.

He tells Seven magazine, "He (my brother) promised to buy me lunch. I was waiting for him and the casting director came up to me and said, 'You look about the right age, you should audition too'. And I thought I might as well."

Lee was so impressed with Sharma that he was cast straight away, and then started praying he'd made the right decision: "If I hadn't found that soulful face I couldn't have made the movie. He's a natural. Once I found him I think (sic), 'Please God make this work."