Directed by Anu Menon, Shakuntala Devi starring Vidya Balan will give us a glimpse into the incredible life of India’s very own math genius, who was popularly referred to as the ‘human computer’ The movie explores how a Brahmin girl born in Karnataka with absolutely no formal education turns out to be a maths genius? together with how her calculations are not entirely perfect when it comes to her life – but in the end, Shakuntala never loses.
Through the film, Vidya Balan keeps a tight grip on the character’s body language, expressions, tonality and accent. She truly lives as her character. You rarely watch the life journey of a genius with enough flaws that you relate to them. Director Anu Menon’s storytelling explores Shakuntala Devi not just as a genius mathematician but as a girl with aspiration, dreams, a woman with an open and free mind. At the same time, she is not devoid of the vices that make her perfectly-imperfect – she is a woman with ego, anger, possessiveness and someone who is in constant tiff to be not the mother who is ‘spineless’ or ‘selfish’. It’s absolutely fine not to be a perfect mother or an ideal wife. The film argues that it is a futile attempt to seek perfection as no one is perfect.
Vidya Balan once again creates magic on the screen. Her laughter, her passion, her carefree approach allows her to conquer the screen so effortlessly that she becomes one of us. The actress has managed to showcase Shakuntala Devi with the same grace and ease she would have probably preferred to be seen on the silver screen. The immense poise, confidence, the decision-making ability without being on a guilt trip is what makes the character so real and believable. Her laughter, her determination to chase her dreams and the tightening of her throat and gut-wrenching sobs in an extremely emotional scene makes it a must-watch for cinema lovers. While the journey of arithmetic genius is one pillar of the film, the other is Shakuntala’s relationship with her daughter Anupama Banerji (Sanya Malhotra). Sanya, who is one of the underrated actors of the industry, adeptly plays the daughter who is continuously upset for not having a normal childhood. But as Shakuntala says: why be normal, when you can be amazing. The music of the film is weaved into the screenplay and adds beauty to move the screenplay forward.
Shakuntala Devi is an absolute treat to watch with the family. It’s a great tribute to Shakuntala Devi.