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Shakuntala Devi Review: Maths, Maternity, And More

by Arkaprovo Das
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Shakuntala Devi

Amazon Prime Video lifted the curtains off of its latest offering- Shakuntala Devi. The trailer of this Vidya Balan starrer has been doing the rounds of social media since its unveiling. To be honest, it looks quite impressive. But, then, how often have we been lured in by a bomb trailer only to find that the movie is a fatally boring one. Thankfully, Amazon Prime’s Shakuntala Devi does not fall into that category. So, to my friends reading this who haven’t watched this movie but have watched the trailer- “Iye to bus trailer hai, picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost!’. Those of you who haven’t watched the trailer yet, I have got you covered. You can watch it here.

Now that you have seen the trailer let’s hop into the Shakuntala Devi Review.

Shakuntala Devi: An Overview

Pimevideo’s Shakuntala Devi is a real-to-reel story based on the life of a mathematical genius who brought laurels to India in the post-Independence era. The movie jumps around the world and moves to and fro on the timeline. It captures the various phases of Shakuntala’s lives, along with the glory and gory bits. 

Shakuntala Devi Review: Throws Light On Problems Much Tougher Than Mathematics

Theme: Unearths the dilemmas of a successful woman’s life

Shakuntala Devi is a movie that revolves around Mathematics with a bit of family conflict thrown in here and there. Well, that’s what we can infer from the trailer. But only when we sit through the 130-minute running time of the movie do we realize that Mathematics is far from the central focus. The dilemmas that the central character faces are very much relevant to all ambitious, modern women. Amazon Prime’s latest throws light on lost childhood, maternity, and how society looks at a woman, so very unapologetically. 

Acting: Top draw

Vidya Balan has always been a treat to watch, and this movie is no different. She endows the character with charm, builds a bubble of aura around her, brings out the negativity in her mind in an ingenious fashion, and sports the retro look like a pro. Having said all that, Primevideo’s Shakuntala Devi would not have been half as good as it is without the mind-boggling acting of the supporting actors. Jisshu Sengupta and Amit Sadh are accomplished actors and are big names in the regional industries and the silver screen. They do justice to their caliber in this movie. Sanya Malhotra is fast making herself known in Bollywood, and her performance in this movie does her resume no harm. Had it not been for this trio, it would have been a Herculean task for Vidya to make this movie watchable. 

Musical Sequences: Very much avoidable

Bollywood and musical sequences have been in bed with each other for decades now. It doesn’t seem that they wish to break this lovey-dovey relationship anytime soon. Even if it means including musical sequences that are utterly unnecessary, and even a laughing stock sometimes. Amazon Prime’s Shakuntala Devi has its share of song sequences that hit the unsuspecting audience like a bolt from the blue and forces us to creep up to that ‘Forward’ button. Imagine having to sit through this torture in a movie hall. Thanks, COVID-19.

Narration: Oscillates too much

Though racking your brain to solve the complex mathematical problems shown in the film isn’t necessary, you have to put some strain on your gray matter to keep track of the time things are happening in. Primevideo’s latest oscillates like a high-frequency pendulum between years of the late 20th century, injecting a sense of confusing the audience. A simpler and more organized narration style would have been much more suitable for this movie. 

Ending: Fails to put the cherry on top

Despite its whopping 130-minute running time, the Amazon Prime movie does a good job of keeping the audience glued to their seats. But, Shakuntala Devi fails to realize its full potential thanks to the last 15-odd minutes of typical Bollywood ending. Very predictable, very boring, and very much skippable. 

Final Verdict

Shakuntala Devi isn’t a movie that will be placed in the Hall of Fame of Bollywood. But, it is an entertainer nonetheless. So, if you are looking for a weekend-watch recommendation and you love movies that scream out- ”Drama or nothing” (literally speaking), then it might be actually tailor-made for you. 

What’s Next?

As stated earlier, Primevideo’s Shakuntala Devi is based on the life of a genius. If you have an appetite for biopics of genius academics, you might want to try movies listed below.

  • The Imitation Game
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • The Theory of Everything
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity

If you are a bookworm with a similar taste, you might want to try the book ‘Einstein: The Life of A Genius.’ 

If you are searching for some other Bollywood movies on Prime Video, you might want to check out the Ayushman Khuranna and Amitabh Bachchan starrer ‘Gulabo Sitaabo’. Before you do, check out our spoiler-free review of the movie.

Now that you know the syllabus, I hope you can decide whether or not you want to embark on this 2-hour journey with the genius mathematician. If you do, let us know in the comments below what you think of the movie.


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