Shakuntala Devi is the world-renowned mathematician who is usually called the “Human-Computer” because of her exceptional mathematical abilities. A child prodigy, who goes on to make her name in the world, or as in Shakuntala’s language “Badi aurat bann ke dikhaungi.”
The movie shows the real life of this great mathematician of India. Her complicated relationship with her own mother and her daughter. The movie does a great job of bringing forth the fundamental of the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. This movie will move you and force you to think with its out-of-the-box view on feminism, women empowerment, and what all is under the capabilities of a woman.
Shakuntala Devi used to do maths shows since her childhood. She and her family were living in abject penury. We, as an audience, can conveniently say that she was the sole breadwinner of the family. Her handicapped sister, Sharda has high expectations from her. But the untimely death of Sharda shatters Shakuntala. She gets embittered towards her own parents and grows estranged towards them.
As she grows older, Shakuntala moves to London. She intends to make herself famous and earn money and the way to achieve all of this, according to her, was through maths shows. But all her potential sponsors laugh off the idea. Then, one day she discovers the London Society of Mathematics. She goes there and proves her worth.
Gradually, she starts getting famous for her capabilities and breaks several records. She registers her name in the Guinness Book of World Records. She visits different countries where people are left awestruck with her capabilities.
One day, she receives a letter from her mother asking for money, this locks Shakuntala’s belief that her parents only talk to her for money. She always sends money to her parents but never goes to meet them.
She finds the love of her life and settles in with him and has a daughter Anu. She gives up her life as a mathematician and takes up her duties as a full-time mother. But one day she realizes that she never wanted this life. She always wanted to be a mother as well as a great mathematician.
This struggle to keep both the things balanced is what messes the lives of both mother and daughter. We have often heard our parents say- “jab tumhare bachche honge tab samajh aayega.” Shakuntala Devi tries to be the perfect mother to her daughter. She does not want to be her relationship with her daughter the same as she had with her mother.
While seeing Shakuntala Devi, you will realize that the heart of this movie lies in being the perfect mother to your child. “The perfect mother” is the euphemistic idea which every woman wants to achieve but there are several impediments in the way of achieving it.
Everyone’s approach to motherhood is different. But the goal is the same- to take the right decisions for your child. There is a certain mindset in the people that as soon as she becomes a mother, she has to center her life around her child. She no longer has the freedom to make choices for herself and do what makes her happy.
Shakuntala Devi did everything on her own terms and knew how to live life king-size. With her humor, she was able to prove her merit her merit to the world. There were several times when the world tried to belittle her and her talents but the pig-tailed, saree clad Shakuntala proved her worth.
The fabulous acting of Vidya Balan makes it a wonderful treat to the eyes of the audience. Vidya Balan is known for creating powerful empowering movies, which generally have a latent message to them that a woman can find her way on her own in this male-dominated world.
Writer Ishita Moitra has done a great job writing the dialogues. The dialogues are witty and funny, added with a dash of drama. The story is inspired by the true life of Shakuntala Devi. The story adds an emotional touch to the “Human-Computer.”
Anu Menon directed Shakuntala Devi to perfection. The screenplay is fast-paced and keeps the audience engrossed into the movie. The main plot is not marred with interferences from several sub-plots, all the sub-plots contribute to the main plot. This makes Shakuntala Devi an interesting watch.
The music by Sachin-Jigar is peppy and perfectly complements the screenplay. The cinematography is beautiful as it shows the different years with absolute precision.
Good performances have been derived from Jisshu Sengupta, Sanya Malhotra, and Amit Sadh. All these brilliant actors have contributed to the main plot perfectly to create a fun-loving movie which talks about some deep facts precisely.
The movie turns out to be a surprise as it was not one expected from a biopic. No offense to anyone but all biopics follow the same plot more or less and it tends to get boring after a point of time. Honestly, this was what I had expected from the movie when I saw its trailer.
But the movie easily shatters your expectations and becomes much more than a biopic. The twisted relationship between the mother and daughter is open to interpretation but the love of a mother is underlying in whatever she does.
Another important thing the movie talks about is how the family members of someone famous feel. Sometimes, it becomes a burden to be related to someone famous. You are expected to follow their footsteps or be like them. Your individuality might get lost and there are chances that resentment might creep in.
The love Shakuntala has for maths, her love for numbers, for stages, and for her daughter will make Shakuntala Devi a timeless watch for you. It will not be surprising if you find yourself watching it again.
The most all-women cast and crew of the movie reinstate the fact that women can achieve whatever they want to without the need of a man. As Shakuntala says in the movie- “Why do men always want a woman to need a man?”.
Shakuntala Devi is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.