Lock Down Review 7: Shakuntala Devi
The season of biopics is continuing in Bollywood. The latest one 'Shakuntala Devi' is the biopic of a math genius Shakuntala Devi who is also known as Human Computer. Apart from her extraordinary achievements in Mathematics, nothing much known about Shakuntala Devi to common people. National Award winner Vidya Balan played the titular role in the movie and it has raised the curiosity among the audience. Does the movie showcase her achievements and presents the personal life of Shakuntala Devi? Let's find out.
Shakuntala Devi(Vidya Balan) is born in a poor family in Karnataka. Her father identifies very early that she is a child prodigy in mathematics. Rather than giving her a normal education, he arranges stage shows for her to earn money. She becomes popular slowly but she gets aversed to her parents because her father is after money and her mother is doesn't speak anything against her father. In her youth, Shakuntala Devi leaves her parents and starts living on her own. She leaves for England to pursue a career as a mathematician. She achieves great success. She becomes rich and famous. She later marries Paritosh Banerji (Jisshu Sen Gupta) and become a mother.
She leaves her profession for a few years to lead a normal housewife and mother but she couldn't continue it for long. She decides to get back to her profession. With the next developments, the gap increases between her and her daughter. The gap increases so much that her daughter starts to hate her. What happens between the mother and daughter? And what happens to Shakuntala Devi as a genius mathematician forms the rest of the story.
Vidya Balan effortlessly slips on to Shakuntala Devi's character. It is beautiful to watch her playing the role of an independent woman who lives by her own terms irrespective of the consequences. Sanya Malhotra, Jisshu Sen Gupta have done justice to their roles.
Background score is apt for the story that is set in different time frames. The songs are just average. Cinematography is good. Director Anu Menon tried to present the independent nature of Shakuntala Devi and drama between the mother and daughter more than her mathematical achievements. Presenting her more of a mathematician with less family drama could have made the film more interesting. As a director, Anu did an okay job.
Vidya Balan's Performance
Lack of Detailing in Some episodes
More focus on family drama and less focus on Mathematics
Going by the title of the movie one would expect that the movie focuses more on the mathematical side of the genius. How she is able to do such great things? etc. The makers didn't dwell much into this aspect. She is shown as a gifted woman and how she does those calculations is an enigma. More focus on mother-daughter emotional drama slightly diluted the proceedings.
Clarity is missing in a few episodes like why she wrote a book on homosexuality, the first of its kind in India? What prompted her to show interest in astrology? Her short political stint and contesting against Indira Gandhi etc episodes. Apart from these things, 'Shakuntala Devi' is more of a balancing act of a genius mother between her passion and her daughter.
Shakuntala Devi's character is shown as modern and independent and it strikes the chord with the audience. Sequences like 'Ms.Revolving Number' will certainly grab the attention of the audience. The director didn't choose to sugarcoat the incidents and presented her 'normal' side just like 'Mahanati' film. On the whole, the movie is passable due to Vidya's amazing screen presence.
It's Vidya Balan's Show