In my childhood and one generation before me and the one after who is worth their salt must definitely have heard of the Human computer, the number wizard, the mathematical genius SHAKUNTALA DEVI who goes by so many sobriquets.
She was one of the most famous daughter of India who got name and fame not only to herself but also did the country proud. I remember when she came to our school in the late seventies, we all marvelled at her instant genius, our numbers kept increasing and her answers were as effortless as kids play, you gave her numbers which she instantly crunched and spooled out the answers roaming on the stage from one end to another with Mike in hand in her typical sareed attire and with a twinkle in her eye.
Thankfully the makers of the film on Shakuntala Devi have stuck to the job and and to the biopic in the right earnest not taking too many cinematic liberties, maybe because her life itself was a big drama and nothing more needed to be added to it to make it more interesting, that shows what a colourful personality she was.
The movie focusses more on her personal life with glimpses of her celebrated professional career peaks both in India and abroad incorporated in the movie from time to time. Coming from a small village of Karnataka her father was a circus act and had humble background she showed sparks of genius early in life and merely by the tender age of 6 and without and formal education in maths she could solve cube roots of large numbers, she had a strained relationship with her her parents and she went off the London to make something of her own and which she did in all her grace.
Vidya Balan as Shakuntla Devi was brilliant and so was Sanya Malhotra as her daughter Anupama. Their chemistry was sparkling. The male characters Jisshu Sen Gupta as her husband was good as usual with uncanny resemblance to the real life Paritosh Bannerjee and Amit Sadh as Ajay – Anupama’s husband was lovable and also uncannily resembles the real life Ajay. Going thru the interview of Anupama and Ajay they too agreed with the script completely and said they were transported in time and that Vidya Balan become her mother reborn and she also started calling her so. She and her husband totally endorsed the movie scene by scene.
It seems the art of biopic in the making still has hopes in India till the time the subject matter is researched in the right earnest. Such movies lend inspiration to legions of our young brigade who are getting ready to face the world with a brave face. Shakuntla Devi did this when even the Western women may not have had the guts to do it, that was her chutzpah and we should celebrate this.
– Review by PAWAN GUPTA
Cast of the film Shakuntala Devi:
Vidya Balan as Shakuntala Devi
Jisshu Sengupta as Shakuntala Devi’s husband
Sanya Malhotra Shakuntala’s Daughter Anupama
Amit Sadh as Ajay – Anupama’s husband
Credits of Shakuntala Devi:
Directed by Anu Menon
Produced by Sony Pictures Networks India, Vikram Malhotra
Written by Ishita Moitra
Screenplay by Anu Menon, Nayanika Mahtani
Based on Shakuntala Devi
Music: Karan Kulkarni
Cinematography – Keiko Nakahara
Edited by – Antara Lahiri
Production companies: Abundantia Entertainment, Sony Pictures Networks India, Genius Films