September 19, 2020

Mother-daughter relationship becomes the pivotal plot of Shakuntala Devi biopic

Movie- Shakuntala Devi

Language-Hindi

Lead cast- Vidya Balan, Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh, Prakash Belawadi

Funnily, I wasn’t really intrigued on knowing more on Shakuntala Devi as an icon. I assumed I knew she was good in numbers; brilliant, in fact and there rests the case. However a string of negative reviews started coming on social media and most were talking about how mother-daughter relationship had been blown up, projected funnily and it brought her stature down.

As a mom and kids platform, yes it’s a space now we have started reviewing movies that can be watched by moms and with kids. 2020 has made many of us look for different kinds of entertainment, but within our homes and movie watching has become one of the top most things to do at home. This is largely done by many of us to get away from Covid news and any updates that make you feel low.

So Shakuntala Devi is a movie from a daughter’s perspective and the story goes through a roller coaster ride of emotions. If Shakuntala the personality was alive and a biopic was made on her, perhaps the storyline would have been different.

This is more from a daughter’s perspective the icon who gets lost in her mom’s world of fascinating numbers and wanted to get away from the limelight. Ironically it was fame, name, money and numbers probably that kept up Shakuntala’s spirit alive. Yet you feel for the icon who didn’t have a normal childhood.

The story traces back to Shakuntala’s calculating ability at a lightning speed, being detected by family members and her father especially pushing her to limelight. Yet, it was not-so-happy childhood where she was being forced to quit school, do shows and even become the primary earning member. This also brings the spotlight of how child prodigies are treated by family members, are they able to cope with sudden fame and do they feel manipulated by family to bring in the money or fame?

Personally I felt Shakuntala Devi,  who is played by Vidya Balan tries her best to keep the viewers engaged in the first half of the movie. Vidya Balan is powerful in many scenes though she does remind you of her Sulu character and her earlier roles played.

The second half however, takes you on a side which isn’t really favorable for a biopic where the personality is dissected on many layers. This is true if the icon is largely remembered as a positive icon. But what comes out through this method is the fascinating layers of human mind, complexities and how we deal with relationships. It brings to a point where one can question being good in numbers doesn’t mean good in relationships.

This is a woman centric plot and Vidya Balan leads you through the story effortlessly. The daughter is played by the young actress Sanya Malhotra and she does put up a good show. Amit Sadh as the son-in-law is good though has a small part in the movie.

Yet I am glad the movie came out for Shakuntala will be remembered by many. Ironically the legend didn’t get her due credit when she was alive perhaps and probably her journey of a mathematician to a business woman to an astrologer was scrutinized in real life. Lots of people also have opinions that the real life icon was brilliant in math and calculations but that couldn’t be said for her other ventures like astrology.

The aspects of leaving your child to pursue a career or when your child confronts you or how you have been as a mother are very relatable to moms. What also strikes as a viewer is her ability to have managed to charm the world without going to school, meeting world icons and making a name for herself and more importantly as a woman who perhaps had it very difficult n her time, to establish herself to become newsworthy  and make a livelihood.

 I also managed to find a few clips on YouTube which some are even replicate in the movie. However what is fiction and what isn’t is a million dollar question?  (Reshma Krishnamurthy from Mums and Stories reviewed the movie)

Here is a black and white original video which is almost replicated as a scene in the movie

This is one more video where she enjoys the attention, and adulation and Shakuntala proves she is once in a lifetime rare genius.

This one is of her interview to a newschannel of Hong Kong

Catch the movie on Amazon Prime and here’s the official trailer

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