Movie Review: Shakuntaladevi

Mrunmay was keen to watch this movie about the Math Genius and had kept his eyes on the release date. So as soon as it was released, we watched it on 1-Aug. So the review is a bit late and some points may be little blur in details.

My first reaction after the movie: this is a story about a celebrity (and that to an egoist celebrity) and her daughter. I really don't know how close this one is to real life and hence putting up my points from the movie angle only and not comparing it with real life at all.

Shakuntaladevi, who was a genius in maths, since her childhood, grows doing Math shows across various places - schools, restaurants and what not. Having sacrificed her childhood and schooling for being the primary bread-earner of the family, she develops a huge grudge against her father. And against her mother too - for not speaking up. 

As life takes turns and as Shakuntaladevi fights against the odds, she reaches London. After more struggle there, she finally finds herself doing more shows not just in London but across the world. She wins her fame further by defeating a computer. 

After an encounter with Paritosh, Shakuntala decides to be a mother and have a baby. However, after couple of years, restlessness grows and the stage starts calling her again. Paritosh supports her wholeheartedly and takes complete responsibility of the baby girl. Shakuntala starts her math shows again touring from city to city, living out of a suitcase. During one of her conversations back home, she realises that she is going away from her daughter emotionally and then decides to take the daughter with her around the world, against Paritosh's will.

And there starts the conflict between the daughter and mother. A mother, who had lost her childhood for earning the bread, does the same with her daughter, without realising that. 

The story develops to show the emotional trauma the daughter goes through for several years. And then there comes the fight between egoist mother who wants to decide everything for her daughter and a daughter who wants to live her own life. 

The movie ends on some expected notes. 

Vidya Balan, has played the lead role very well as usual. However, at times, the character portrayed is little bolder for her time and for audience's imagination. A genius, who is lost in her own world, always thinking around the numbers - very well done. Sanya Malhotra plays the role of Anupama, Shakuntala's daughter. She has done marvellous job portraying the troubled child, showing her angst against the mother and her ego. Jisshu Sengupta has a very limited but important role as Paritosh.

On the whole, it boiled down to two things about this story:

  1. Fight between mother and daughter.
  2. Trivialisation of the math genius - it appeared as if she could do only one thing - finding out cube root of large numbers. Most of the places use this trick although there were ample opportunities to show various other aspects.
The movie definitely has a female empowerment angle - the strong female characters - the lead herself being female. But sadly it undermines the father's role severely. Paritosh plays a crucial role where he uses his right on the child to get her daughter proper schooling, which she was deprived of. Had he not forced Shakuntala to put Anupama in the boarding school, Anupama would have hated her mother even more fiercely. This gets completely discounted as the story ends.


It is absolutely okay if you miss this movie, IMO.


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