Shakuntala Devi marks the momentous performance of virtuoso Vidya Balan’s career, who carried this unsteady screenplay, which plays with your will to watch

Rating: 3/5

Shakuntala Devi is the biography of world-famous mathematician Shakuntala Devi. Her life as a mother, wife, woman, sister, daughter, all told in the 127 min comedy-drama film.


The film recollects the events from Shakuntala Devi, the celebrated mathematician’s life. It encapsulates her extraordinary life on the celluloid and unfolds it for us.

Shakuntala Devi, whose mathematical skills are out of the world from childhood, makes it big in her life. Her exceptional talent in maths brings her money, fame and luxury more than enough. But her passion for maths, her life as a daughter, changes her perspective towards everything, which affects her personal life. Extra protective for her daughter, the film covers the events of contradictions and feuds, which ignite a spark of small spat between the mother and daughter.


Shakuntala Devi is a film that projects the selfish, purest form of mother’s love. More than a biography, the makers have tried to pull out the emotional knot of relationships, careers, misjudgments, etc, which sometimes require to be viewed from a different perspective.

Though the makers have successfully carved out the saccharine parts beautifully, it loses its consistency regarding plot engagement. The film kicks off well, though it enters the protagonist’s crux point too soon, giving less to no time to develop in a brief manner. It abbreviates the character’s initial days and discoveries of her abilities. In spite of that, it successfully develops and starts on a really good note. But slowly, it steeps down, like a wave, and by the time it is about to reach climax, it gets back on the line, keeping the emotional essence with it every time.

shakuntala devi


Story and Script

Written by Anu Menon and Nayanika Mahatani, the film’s screenplay is like a wave in a frequency. It starts on the line, slides down gradually, and climbs back again. It takes off in an arresting way, evoking interest, but gradually it sinks, making it a bit tedious. Though it faces such a sink, it doesn’t lose the emotional knot and that’s why you won’t lose your will to watch this film. By the climax, it climbs up, with a touching, inspiring climax, which questions our perspective and attitude towards certain things, that we should reconsider and contemplate for a bit.


Directed by Anu Menon, it is a decent watch with some exhilarating performances. She has carried us through years, but the costumes and settings didn’t seem to reflect the time the story is set in much. One may forget that it is set in pre-90s as the outfits and locations do not speak for the generation and time. But she has extracted the best out of everyone and has managed to keep the emotional potent buoyant.
When dealing with a film set in a different era, the Director must always check if the visuals speak the language of that time.


Vidya Balan, who is already well known for her outstanding performances, has without any doubt, aced this role too. Her top-notch acting, especially in the scene where she cries, ‘Ma’, hits you right at your heart. Truly amazing.

Sanya Malhotra as Anupama Banerji also kept her act at the noteworthy level. Jisshu Sengupta also did justice to his role. Amit Sadh and Prakash Belawadi were also perfect.
It is a Vidya Balan show completely, who steals the limelight every time in each and every scene, living her character.


Cinematography by Keiko Nakahara didn’t help much. It is pretty good, but nothing extraordinary which could lift this watchable flick to a treat. Since it couldn’t soulfully convey the period it is set in, visually it fails. Every era, every time period has to have a visual tone that separates it from the contemporary world. Only then the audience would be taken away with it. But here, it fails in communicating the time period visually.

Music/Background Score

Music by Sachin Jigar does not register in people’s minds. It just goes away with the film. Score by Karan Kulkarni also is just a fine job. It works out pretty decent for the film and its scenes but doesn’t become an earworm.


Shakuntala Devi is an emotional tale, which keeps a good track of chemistry between the mother and daughter. The story intends on telling us many things which we sometimes fail to realise on the right time. But apart from the end message and performances, the rest of the portions fall flat. The screenplay in between, visual set up and songs do not impress us.

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