Vidya Balan, Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh, Jisshu Sengupta
Released on Amazon Prime Video
Drama (Semi biopic)
If you are a true blue Vidya Balan fan, being one of the first ones to tune in to watch Shakuntala Devi is a must. Now that I think about it, hers are the films I tend to watch as soon as they release.
Shakuntala Devi is a drama based on the real-life mathematician, Shakuntala Devi, and the first person I envisioned playing her was Vidya Balan – and Anu Menon, the director, clearly had that vision. The film follows her journey as a child to a young woman and then, as a mother, who says in the film, “[w]hy should I be normal when I can be amazing?” (translated from Hindi) when asked by her daughter, played by Sanya Malhotra, why she can’t be normal like other mothers. The film explores her relationship with math, but goes beyond that, and explores the complexities of human relationships she may have had.
The reason why the film works is because Shakuntala Devi, despite her complexities, is an easy character to follow and understand. There is a sense of relatability entwined within the character, despite her obvious genius, which is not an easy feat to accomplish as a director. Shakuntala Devi was a writer, did politics, delved into astrology, and was literally a math genius. Despite the fact that the film is literally going through Shakuntala Devi’s many accomplishments and milestones (and there are many), we still connect with the human being inside her. While at times I felt certain aspects could have been explored more (her relationship with her own mother, for example), I also recognize the importance of time in a film. My only complaint would be to perhaps shorten the wide breadth that was used as a canvass for Shakuntala Devi, but otherwise, the film works for me. The screenplay and dialogues are engaging and one must appreciate the work of the costume/hair/make up team, especially in relation to Vidya Balan. The shows are also really well shot.
But the star of the show, like Shakuntala Devi herself, is Vidya Balan. Vidya Balan, much like Shakuntala Devi, is a genius in the way in which she puts on this show. While the rest of the cast does well (special shoutout to Amit Sadh, who plays Ajay), it is really Vidya Balan you cannot take your eyes off of. While Amit Sadh as Ajay, the husband of Shakuntala Devi’s daughter, Anupama (played by Sanya Malhotra), is phenomenal, his screen time is limited. So, it is Vidya through and through. This one is a must-watch, especially if you are a Vidya Balan fan.