Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi Biopic Will Premiere On Prime Video, On July 31
The release date for the much-awaited film on Shakuntala Devi has finally been announced. Starring Vidya Balan as Devi, the film will be available for streaming worldwide from 31 July on Prime video. Written and directed by Anu Menon, the biographical film will showcase the story of Shakuntala Devi, also known as the “Human Computer”, who became a universal name with her super-human ability to solve complex mathematical problems within seconds.
The Film and The Announcement of The Release Date
In the small video clip released by Amazon Prime, Vidya Balan is shown to be explaining a complex mathematical formula to the audience. There is a blackboard in her background that displays those same complex equations written in chalk. The clip will remind you of an often-quoted moment in Devi’s life. In 1977, at a meet in the University of Dallas, Shakuntala Devi was given to calculate the 23rd root of a 201-digit number. It’s said that a steely silence descended in the room as she studied the question on the chalkboard. After 50 seconds, to the surprise of each person present there, Devi started to pronounce the answer digit-by-digit.
Among all the books that she wrote, her The World of Homosexuals (1977), remains the most famous for being the first Indian study of homosexuality.
Vidya Balan’s reading of the mathematical problem, and giving a solution within seconds (the answer to the equation is interestingly, the release date of the film) is perhaps a reminder, and an ode, to that moment in Devi’s life. And to the numerous other similar moments. It is said that Devi had, then and there in that room, outperformed even the fastest computers of her times. There is a sly comment by Balan at the end of the video clip: “Kya hua? Computer ne abhi tak jawab nahi diya? (What happened? Has the computer still not displayed the results for you?”) It undoubtedly hits all the right spots and heightens up the anticipation for the film.
Shakuntala Devi: The Human Computer
Shakuntala Devi was born in 1929 in Bangalore. Her parents discovered her amazing capacity to memorize numbers when she was just three years old. By five, she could compute cube roots in her mind. She spent her youth touring India, and giving public performances of her incredible gift. In 1940s, she moved to London, where she soon rose to fame. Heralded as the “human computer”, her talent also found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1982. She earned her entry in it for being able to multiply two 13-digit numbers in 28 seconds, without the help of any computer.
Devi’s passion to expand the human capacity made her develop the concept known as ‘Mind Dynamics’.
Devi’s life was a quest for not only making sense and use of her abilities, but also for discovering and asserting her own humanity. Her passion to expand the human capacity made her develop the concept known as ‘Mind Dynamics’. Among all the books that she wrote, her The World of Homosexuals (1977), remains the most famous for being the first Indian study of homosexuality.
Shakuntala Devi was also known for her fiercely independent spirit. Her search for independence in her career found many parallels in her personal life as well. In a 1950 interview, Devi declared that “I do not want to give any man an opportunity to say that if I made a name it was because of his help.” When she married, she refused to adopt her husband’s name. She instead said that, “I want the ration card to be made out in my own name. Taking me as a full-fledged individual, a complete person in my own right.”
A writer, mathematician and an advocate for the equality of genders, all bundled in one, Shakuntala Devi’s life and achievements continue to inspire millions around the world. What remains to be seen is whether the film on Shakuntala Devi lives up to the life and legacy of this super-woman.
Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.