|| Shakuntala Devi - Reviews & Discussion ||

Posted: 13 days ago


Man, @vidya_balan takes the beats of a Hindi Film Heroine and completey owns them. The drama, the laughter, the tears and, in Shakuntala Devi, even the dialoguebaazi. Endlessly charming and such a powerhouse. Marvelous Ms Balan 💗


#ShakuntalaDevi THE BEST Indian film of the year! Its #VidyaBalan's super-stellar show & one of her career's most versatile roles! #SanyaMalhotra is supremely talented, proves herself once again! The complex yet beautiful mom-daughter bond carries the soul of the film! MUST-WATCH

Edited by insideroutsider - 13 days ago
Posted: 13 days ago

3/5 - The Guardian

Shakuntala Devi review – spirited biopic of a mathematical genius

Vidya Balan puts in a blazing performance as the eponymous Indian maths genius in Anu Menon’s characterful feminist life story

Mike McCahill

Thu 30 Jul 2020 19.30 BST

In recent years, the Hindi film mainstream has become more proactive about telling the stories of notable women. This new one follows on the heels of last October’s crowdpleasing Saand Ki Aankh, which centred on sharpshooting sisters-in-law, but explores with far greater force its subject’s idiosyncrasies. What results is a biopic with genuine character.

The feats described here are mental: the eponymous heroine, Shakuntala Devi (Vidya Balan), was a phenomenal, Guinness World Records-noted mathematician who performed for many decades in the 20th century under the stage name the Human Computer. Director Anu Menon approaches her, however, from the unusual angle of Devi’s daughter, Anu (Sanya Malhotra), first seen marching into a London lawyers’ chambers in 2001 to initiate criminal proceedings against mum for failing to provide for her. While the case is pending, the thoughtful script (by Menon, Nayanika Mahtani and Ishita Moitra) fills in the brainiac’s backstory.

Born into poverty in Bangalore, Devi is obliged to flee India after shooting a no-good suitor, eventually landing in postwar Britain, where a Spanish Henry Higgins (Luca Calvani) helps to polish her broken English.

Hot from streaming hit Four More Shots Please!, Menon has immense fun with the period re-creation, bouncing between hemispheres, timeframes and wardrobes while underlining a growing distance between mother and child, crystallised by a lyric in one of Sachin-Jigar’s fine songs (“You’re like a puzzle I’ve always tried to solve”). Maths is only one touchstone; another would be that run of women’s pictures from Mildred Pierce to Mommie Dearest

The material yields an all-shotguns-blazing performance from Balan, one of the few Bollywood stars seemingly smart enough to memorise 12-digit integers. Her Devi bends equations and men alike to her will, refusing to conform whether flaunting her caesarean scar as a maternal badge of honour or – in a remarkably relaxed, enlightened sidebar – writing the 1977 tome The World of Homosexuals.

Balan casts a formidable shadow, but Malhotra emerges from it with credit, quietly affecting as a more conventional personality who found she could only rebel against a trailblazing parent by pushing even further into domesticity. The movie finds funny ways of dramatising the process whereby one generation of women squares its frustrations with another – but it adds up to spirited, intelligent, authentically feminist entertainment.

• Shakuntala Devi is available on Amazon Prime Video from 31 July

Posted: 13 days ago



Vidya Balan gets under the skin of her character and simply aces it in the titular role – she gives an unrestrained performance as Shakuntala Devi from the 1950s to 2000s which is captivating to watch, as every stage of her life unfolds.

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Cast & Crew

Shakuntala Devi Movie Review : Soak yourself in the fascinating life and times of Shakuntala Devi!


Sreeparna Sengupta, TNN, Jul 31, 2020, 12.00 AM ISTCritic's Rating: 3.5/5Story: A biographical drama on the life of Shakuntala Devi, the renowned mathematician, whose astounding skills of solving complex math problems in record time won her admiration and awe, the world over.

Review: ‘Shankuntala Devi’ not only explores the mathematician’s fascinating relationship with numbers but her relationships beyond it as well – especially her life as a mother and a woman. If Shankuntala Devi’s intriguing journey which started off as a three-year-old solving difficult math problems and doing her own shows across schools was not remarkable enough – her fearless and independent spirit as a young woman in the 1950’s, who lived by her own rules adds to her dazzling persona. One which she fiercely protects through every stage of her life.‘Why should I be normal, when I can be amazing?’ Shakuntala Devi (Vidya Balan) asks her daughter Anupama (Sanya Malhotra), when during a skirmish the later questions why she can’t be a ‘normal’ mother.

As the film takes us through Shakuntala Devi’s life, it becomes obvious that while her equation with numbers was seamless, her personal equations often ended up being miscalculated. While highlighting her glorious on stage moments during her Maths Shows, it also delves into her string of troubled relationships - with her parents, the over riding anger towards her mother for not standing up to her father when it mattered, the men in her life and finally her strained relationship with her daughter.

The first hour of the film keeps one engaged with a fun, entertaining narrative – where in 1950s London, we see an eager and endearing Shakuntala Devi giving it her all and trying to pull off her shows despite all the odds. Her makeover and brushing up of English language skills spearheaded by her Spanish friend Javier (Luca Calvani), sees her undergo a transformation which brings out her vivacious nature. She is soon the toast of parties and a woman who lives her life with abandon. And when love comes in form of Paritosh Banerji (Jisshu Sengupta), she jumps right into the moment, by proposing marriage to him and having a baby soon after. It is when she is finally torn between motherhood and being the woman who she inherently is – a maths whiz, doing shows world over, that she is compelled to make some difficult choices.

Director Anu Menon brings to us the life of a woman whose story is so enthralling that it is hard to look away. However, at times the narrative does seem to be rushed, as though ticking off milestones in Shankuntala Devi’s life, one after the other in quick succession (and to be honest there are so many). Also the tonal shift from breezy to a dramatic and emotional one is a bit uneven at times (writers – Anu Menon, Nayanika Mahtani). The film has been well-shot (Keiko Nakahara) keeping the different periods in mind and Balan’s looks (Costumes – Niharika Bhasin) through the ages blend in well. While the soundtrack (Sachin-Jigar) is peppered with peppy numbers, the one to linger on is the soulful ‘Jhilmil Piya’ (singers - Benny Dayal, Monali Thakur, lyrics – Priya Saraiya).

Vidya Balan gets under the skin of her character and simply aces it in the titular role – she gives an unrestrained performance as Shakuntala Devi from the 1950s to 2000s which is captivating to watch, as every stage of her life unfolds. Jisshu Sengupta as the suave and sensitive Paritosh is a delight to watch and Amit Sadh as Anupama’s supportive husband, Ajay makes an impact even with his limited screen time.Sanya Malhotra as the slightly older Anupama brings in poise to her character, although her teenage act doesn’t quite pass off that easily.

But ultimately ‘Shakuntala Devi’ is a joy to watch simply to soak in the fascinating life and times of the maths whiz - a human computer faster than an actual computer, the free-spirit, who was all that and so much more! Vidya Kasam, don’t give this one a miss.

In-depth Analysis

Our overall critic’s rating is not an average of the sub scores below.









Visual appeal:


Posted: 13 days ago


Shakuntala Devi movie review: Vidya Balan film shows us a lot but says little

Shakuntala Devi movie review: Based on the life of maths genius Shakuntala Devi, who was known as the ‘human computer’, the Anu Menon film stars Vidya Balan, Sanya Malhotra and Amit Sadh.

BOLLYWOOD Updated: Jul 31, 2020 00:00 ISTJyoti Sharma Bawa

Jyoti Sharma Bawa

Hindustan Times

Shakuntala Devi movie review: Vidya Balan plays the gifted mathematician in Anu Menon’s film.Shakuntala Devi movie review: Vidya Balan plays the gifted mathematician in Anu Menon’s film.     

Shakuntala Devi
Director - Anu Menon
Cast - Vidya Balan, Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh, Jisshu Sengupta

Shakuntala Devi lives like she laughs. She tilts her head back and unleashes a full-throated guffaw; hers is a belly laugh and it’s often heard in the 2-hour-10-minute biopic. Even when she is not laughing, the expression on her face suggests that she is in on the joke.

As a maths genius in plaits, she would have understood the value of humour early on. Shakuntala had an uncanny ability to make numbers dance. As a slip of a girl, she was participating in maths shows, supporting her family by answering tough-as-nuts questions.

Watch the Shakuntala Devi trailer here

Even in a field as crowded as biopics of geniuses, finding one on a woman who knows how to live life is rare. Geniuses who get their own biopics are tortured, enigmatic and largely male. Their worth is often recognised long after they are gone. Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi ticks none of these boxes. She likes her saris, the attention, and her transcontinental lifestyle.

Shakuntala Devi, the film, dramatises the life of the maths wizard whose bold outlines are public knowledge. A girl whose talent for maths was identified at a young age, Shakuntala supplemented her family’s dwindling resources by doing maths shows from an early age. A fierce feminist before perhaps she even knew the word, Shakuntala lived life on her own terms.

After she shoots at a paramour who tries to fool her, she is sent to the UK where her first love -- maths -- once again comes to her rescue. A Spanish man named Javier teaches her English and the way of life in Europe, as she finds fame as the ‘human computer’, eventually working her way into the Guinness Book of World Records. She marries an IAS officer named Paritosh (Jisshu Sengupta) but she fails to find a balance between maths and motherhood. Her testy relationship with daughter Anu (Sanya Malhotra), who wants a ‘normal’ life, forms the main conflict in the film.

Vidya Balan and Sanya Malhotra in a still from Shakuntala Devi. Vidya Balan and Sanya Malhotra in a still from Shakuntala Devi.

With so much going for the little girl in pigtails, it is a shame that the film never takes any chances, happy to stick to the same constructs Shakuntala herself despised. The film feels functional, in a race to tell us the entire story of her life while skipping over the broad strokes that made the real-life Shakuntala Devi a woman ahead of her time.

Chapter after chapter is shown, giving you as much satisfaction as turning the pages of your maths NCERT textbook, despite the detailed set design and the focus on period specific costumes. The sepia-toned tinge of her childhood spent in poverty merges into the lush colours of her youth in the UK without the viewer really getting any insight into her life.

The script by Nayanika Mehtani, co-written by director Anu Menon, Shakuntala Devi feels bland. The most important relationships of her life -- especially with the men she loved -- are explained away in expository dialogues. Paritosh and Javier get the sort of treatment usually reserved for women in Hindi cinema – just foisted there without much of an arc, with perhaps a song thrown in. Even something as important as Shakuntala authoring a book on homosexuality in India back in 1977 is glossed over in a cringe-inducing scene.

Shakuntala Devi truly focusses on only two relationships of its protagonists’ life – with maths and her daughter Anu, and even they get a short shrift, with emotions lost in exposition.

Also read: Gulabo Sitabo movie review: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana’s Amazon Prime film is as flavourful as Lucknawi biryani

Vidya Balan brings a sense of vibrancy to Shakuntala – the maths genius who was a rock star at heart. Shakuntala is another addition to the long line of independent, free-thinking women that populate her filmography. Sanya is competent but fails to match up to her more illustrious co-star, especially when it comes to the scenes of mother-daughter conflict. Both Jisshu and Amit Sadh, who plays Anu’s husband Abhaya, are charming and solid. Amit gets what is perhaps the most fleshed-out male role in the film and does justice to it.

In the film’s defence, it is not a hagiography. Shakuntala is not perfect. She has her imperfections like the rest of us. The film seems in a hurry to get from point A to point B, like a standard cradle-to-the-grave biopic. A woman who never really understood the meaning of the word ‘normal’, Shakuntala Devi now gets a biopic which can only be described thus.

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Posted: 13 days ago


Shakuntala Devi movie review: A Vidya Balan show

Vidya Balan owns the material that she is given, course-correcting every time she tends to slip into being mannered. The supporting cast is fine.

  • wrritten by Shubhra Gupta | Published: July 31, 2020 12:01:22 am

Shakuntala Devi
Shakuntala Devi is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Shakuntala Devi movie cast: Vidya Balan, Jisshu Sengupta, Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh
Shakuntala Devi movie director: Anu Menon
Shakuntala Devi movie rating: Three stars

For someone who had such a celebrated, spot-lit public life, accompanied by an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records and dropped jaws in well-regarded mathematics circles around the world, there is astonishingly little known about the personal life of Shakuntala Devi, known as ‘the human computer’.

Anu Menon’s film on the life and times of Shakuntala Devi starts with this disclaimer: ‘this film is inspired by true events but does not claim to be a documentary/biography of any character depicted in the film’. Par for the course for biographical sketches in Bollywood, but ironic in a film whose story was detailed with the help of the maths genius’ real-life daughter, Anupama Banerji. So do we believe everything we see, or dismiss certain events as ‘creative liberty’?

It’s a point worth considering because Shakuntala Devi, as played by Vidya Balan with supreme confidence and conviction, turns out to be the kind of strong, independent woman that Bollywood usually keeps away from. As a little girl who could compute in a flash the cube root of a complicated number, and a maths prodigy who was deprived of a ‘normal’ childhood by a father who dragged her from one show to another, she was very clear that she would be a ‘bada aadmi, not a badi aurat’, not a desire commonly expressed by little girls in the 1930s.

That Shakuntala was never going to toe any line, or be any kind of ‘normal’ woman, is the line the movie takes, and does well by. Especially when we see her, as a young woman, creating a life of her own in England, where she fetches up not knowing anyone, speaking the language in a brown accent, wearing her colourful saris and pigtails proudly. She does come close to a man, but very soon we realise Shakuntala Devi doesn’t need male help to prop her up. She is happiest on her own, laying out her astonishing prowess with numbers, wowing awe-struck audiences around the world. Being her own person.

We see her conjuring up these complicated answers, with nearly too many digits to count, and we are as delighted as she is. Am I correct, asks Balan. Of course, she is. And we beam, as much as she does. And then she finds a partner (Sengupta), and becomes a mother, and the film tilts over into becoming a drama about a reluctant mother and an unhappy daughter (Malhotra). Shakuntala Devi the perfect number cruncher giving way to Shakuntala Devi the imperfect mother is the conflict the film chooses, and spends most time resolving. Could it be because numbers are frightening and alienating, and mum-and-daughters are comforting and relatable?

You wish that the film stayed with Shakuntala the maths genius a little more. It would have been nice to delve into the process with which Shakuntala did what she did, even though she had no clue: numbers just spoke to her. The fact that she had political ambitions (she stood for elections, and fought Indira Gandhi in Medak for a Lok Sabha seat) is papered over briefly; a little more focus on her now-affectionate-now-thorny relationship with the father of her daughter would have shed light on why she wrote a book on homosexuality, the first of its kind in India. What made her veer towards astrology? More light on these intriguing aspects would have given us a more rounded Shakuntala.

Balan owns the material that she is given, course-correcting every time she tends to slip into being mannered. The supporting cast is fine. Sengupta works well with Balan, and Malhotra and Sadh, as the modern couple, feel right. The film, which stays determinedly cheerful even in the grey hues of London, slides into flatness here and there. The lines are perky but sometimes startlingly contemporary (did anyone say, for example, ‘let’s take this to the next level’, back in the 50s?). But then we slide right back: this is truly a Vidya Balan show, and she carries it off, with a glint in the eye, and a lilt in the step.

Posted: 13 days ago

definite watch it will be this wkndsmiley14

Vidya Balan Sanya Malhotra Shakuntala Devi 

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