Warm, emotional, and at times, perhaps a little too sappy, ‘Shakuntala Devi’ is the depiction of an inspirational female role model and extraordinary mathematician who will forever be called ‘The human-computer.’
It also depicts the life of a Shakuntala Devi who was much more than just a gifted mathematician.
The viewers get an insight into the complicated life choices she had to make and the several other roles she’d played in her life- a mother, a wife and most importantly, a woman who was willing to go after what she wanted, irrespective of life’s circumstances.
Vidya Balan’s acting is delightful, and she beautifully depicts the complex titular character. She captures the attention of the viewer in every scene with her larger-than-life screen presence.
Sanya Malhotra, who plays Shakuntala’s daughter, does an equally admirable job.
Anu Menon’s fourth film does a fine job of balancing the ups and downs of the plot, which is told from the perspective of Anupama Banerji, Shakuntala’s daughter. She plays an important role in the film, with her journey being as significant to the storyline as that of her mother.
The first half of the film is mostly light and shows an enthusiastic, confident, and courageous Shakuntala, her various achievements in the field of mathematics and the feat of defeating one of the fastest computers of the day, which earned her the tag she is called to date- The human-computer. Her relationship with her parents is also explored slowly throughout the film.
The second half gets a little more serious and delves into her marriage with IAS officer, Paritosh Banerji, and her tumultuous relationship with their daughter, Anupama.
Certain scenes get a little draggy, like the emotional reconciliations of the mother-daughter duo but the message at the end makes it all worth it.
It addresses beautifully, the completely patriarchal view of a women’s achievements that existed back when a young Shakuntala had just started to harness her gift in the streets of London and continues to exist in a world that will forever mourn her loss.
The film portrays the journey of a woman who learned how to recognize her value and never let any such patriarchal stereotypes stand in the way of what she wanted. It is a fitting depiction of a great mathematician who dedicated her entire life to her passion and love for numbers and whose fundas continue to be taught in schools all over the world.