Shakuntala Devi – a Movie Review


Watched Shakuntala Devi – the movie yesterday. It’s a very well made movie by Anu Menon. I think it’s her third movie.

The movie captures the life of Shakuntala Devi who was known as the Human Computer due to her dexterity with Mathematics, right from her childhood. 

Frankly, I wasn’t keen to watch this movie. How entertaining a movie on a mathematician can be, I had thought. I am thankful to my wife and daughter for pulling me in front of the TV screen.

In no time I was sucked into the narrative, thanks to an effervescent child artist and the capable direction. How a grown-up Shakuntala’s attitude was moulded at an early age, has been depicted wonderfully.

I loved the depiction of Shakuntala Devi’s independent behaviour and never-say-die attitude.

And what can I say about Vidya Balan, who has lived a role which progresses from a teenager to a matronly figure, never once slipping out of character. I just loved her characteristic ‘Havier with J silent’ whenever she interacts with the Javier character.

While her effervescent act of Shakuntala Devi’s youth is lovable, I was blown away by her depiction of Shakuntala Devi’s later years, especially after her motherhood. The struggle to live an independent, jet-setting life conducting her Maths shows while raising a daughter singlehandedly has been shown without being over dramatic. 

Few scenes from the movie will remain with you long after it is over. Her hate for her overbearing and exploitative father and a silently suffering mother; the scene where her husband tells her that the first word spoken by their daughter is papa; her confrontation scene with her husband over their daughter’s custody, well their are many such.

But the scene-stealer is her solitary scene when she goes back to her childhood home and breaks down on seeing the yellowing newspaper cutting’s of her Maths exploits, which her mother had been religiously collecting in an old trunk; the same mother whom she had hated all along for being the silent, all-suffering woman.

Also noteworthy are Vidya’s scenes with Sanya Malhotra, who plays Shakuntala Devi’s daughter. Sanya reminds the audience that she too is one talented actress. 

Jisshu Sengupta, who plays Shakuntala Devi’s husband, plays his part with sufficient restraint.

Shakuntala Devi is an excellent movie of a strong, self-made woman and a loving if, overbearing mother. Recommended for everyone.

It is a worthy addition to Vidya Balan’s movie repertoire like Parineeta, The Dirty Picture, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Kahaani, et al.

Yatindra Tawde

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