Shakuntala Devi Movie Review Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and half stars)
Star Cast: Vidya Balan, Sanya Malhotra, Jisshu Sengupta, Amit Sadh, Sheeba Chaddha, Prakash Belawadi
Director: Anu Menon
What’s Good: The ever-vivacious Vidya Balan & the fact that I didn’t get out of my house to watch it
What’s Bad: The fact that it’s sold as a biopic, I would’ve preferred it better as an ‘inspired by Shakuntala Devi’s’ life kind of story
Loo Break: The whole idea of ‘let’s solve Math questions’ gets very repetitive, so apart from the first couple ones you can storm to the loo every time you see Vidya solving sums
Watch or Not?: If you can take a risk, forget it’s a biopic and want to see Vidya Balan nailing yet another performance, your digital screens are waiting for you!
So we have this superhero in Shakuntala Devi (Vidya Balan) who has this supernatural power to do mental Math faster than a computer. She has been brilliant with numbers since her childhood. With some internal issues with her mother, Shakuntala wants to travel around the world and hates to stick at a place (she says, ‘only trees stick at one place’).
Shakuntala starts doing Math shows all around the world charming people with her sharp brainy skills. Falls in love faces an abrupt heartbreak, falls in love again, have internal issues and how she faces them along with wearing the superheroes cape is what the rest of story is about.
Shakuntala Devi Movie Review: Script Analysis
Most of my complaints with the film are because of it being a ‘biopic’, and also because of the ongoing quest of having a decent biopic from Bollywood. Shakuntala Devi had her father in a circus, and he was a trapeze artist. She learned her Math tricks while memorising numbers at the cards magic shows in those circuses. The ‘major’ reason behind Shakuntala’s divorce was her husband’s homosexuality. Shakuntala’s daughter went into a court battle with her secretary over obtaining her mother’s property worth 50 crores. All of this is criminally snubbed, and those all could’ve made some game-changing sub-plots. Just imagine, they had a chance to show the shade of homosexuality in the 1970s.
While you emotionally connect to the non-math sections of her life, the ultimate motive of the film is one blurry line. Anu Menon & Nayanika Mahtani’s screenplay misses a few of the most exciting chapters from Shakuntala’s life. Keiko Nakahara’s camera maintains the colourful, joyous theme even in the emotions scenes. Antara Lahiri’s editing couldn’t have done anything different to make any difference. Because the content was so abrupt and scattered, even a crisp edit couldn’t have saved it. One thing that did work was the mother-daughter angle with Vidya Balan and Sanya Malhotra.
Shakuntala Devi Movie Review: Star Performance
A tailor-made role for Vidya Balan and something that only she can pull-off. Maintaining the quirks of her character, she tries to balance it emotionally. She never misses any beat and stays in her role throughout. Another brilliant attempt to show how different her talented periphery could be.
Sanya Malhotra has always been a charmer, and she sticks to her trademarked spark standing tall with Vidya Balan. Though she deserved a more detailed character, she manages to stay afloat with her talent.
Jisshu Sengupta doesn’t get much ground to play around. His character as Shakuntala Devi’s homosexual husband restricts him to the half-baked script. He could’ve had so much more, but because of the reasons discussed above, Paritosh comes across as a weakly executed character.
Amit Sadh is there just for the sake of having someone paired opposite Sanya Malhotra. We’ve seen this man doing some brilliant stuff this year, but this film is undoubtedly not one of his better performances. Gems such as Sheeba Chaddha & Prakash Belawadi get no scope to showcase what they’re known for – brilliant acting.
Shakuntala Devi Movie Review: Direction, Music
Anu Menon takes some brave decisions regarding what to filter and what to show. Most of them just don’t work in favour of the film. She’s good at riding the ship but not apt to lead one. She makes sure the movie looks good and optimally uses Vidya for the same. She hits some but misses many.
Multiple songs by Sachin-Jigar, none of them clicks well apart from Shreya Ghoshal’s Paheli. That syncs well with one of the few positives of the film – the Vidya & Sanya angle. Karan Kulkarni’s background score is adequate. Too much at some places and just about perfect at some.
Shakuntala Devi Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, though Shakuntala Devi has Vidya Balan’s performance as a big positive, it also comes with many glitches. If you don’t watch this as a biopic, there’s a better chance you won’t nitpick as many things as I did.
Two and a half stars!
Shakuntala Devi Trailer
Shakuntala Devi releases on 31st July, 2020.
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