When a biopic director decides against making a hagiography, the movie-goers are blessed with gem of a watch.
And that's what happened with Vidya Balan starrer Shakuntala Devi, which was released on Amazon Prime on July 31, 2020.
Even when Anu Menon drew a portrait of India's woman mathematical genius with all her imperfections, if we may call it like that, we fall for her.
The director has presented the movie through the eyes of Shakuntala Devi's daughter Anupama Banerji but seems to have taken cinematic liberties at places.
The movie proceeds in a non-linear way jumping back and forth knitting Shakuntala Devi's past and present.
If you evaluate the cinematic language of Shakuntala Devi, it is a simple, well-made, feel-good movie. But it forces its way into the list of top movies from India in the recent years with its female gaze. Credit goes to the screenplay by Anu Menon and Nayanika Mahtani and the predominantly female crew.
Brownie points to Keiko Nakahara's cinematography and Antara Lahiri's editing. Dialogues by Ishita Moitra are witty, thought-provoking and precise.
If one is to make a list of things that went right for Anu Menon, in this movie, then the casting would get the first place.
Vidya Balan was what Arthur R Jensen described Shakuntala Devi as - alert, extroverted, affable, and articulate. This could be one of the actor's finest moments on the screen. Rest of the cast including Sanya Malhotra, Jisshu Sengupta, Amit Sadh, Prakash Belawadi and even the Malayali broker in Bangalore was spot on.
The film derives the answer that womanhood may not always have to be the sum of motherhood and daughterhood, in record time just like Shakuntala Devi.