'The Man Who Knew Infinity' - Movie Review

Apr 29, 2016, 16:15 IST | Johnson Thomas

'The Man Who Knew Infinity'
U; Biopic
Director: Matt Brown
Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Stephen Fry, Toby Jones, Devika Bhise
Rating: 3/5

'The Man Who Knew Infinity' - Movie Review
A still from 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' 

This film ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’, based on a book by Robert Kanigel, is written and directed by Matthew Brown. About self-taught Indian Mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan’s (Dev Patel) enduring friendship with GH Hardy (Jeremy Irons), this film begins its journey in 1913 when Ramanujan is invited to travel to Trinity College, Cambridge, where, over the course of 5 years, he leaves an indelible legacy that till today has been adulated for its far-seeing consequences. This is Ramanujan’s story as seen through the eyes of Hardy.

It’s an extra-ordinary story of passion and perseverance that was waiting to be told. The mathematics in it may be Greek and Latin to most but at the heart lies a tragic tale of passion and purity that catches you within its emotional bonds at least for brief spells of time. Be assured, Ramanujan’s life was no fairy tale. Hailing from a poor Brahmin family in Madras, where he worked as a clerk and was mentored by Narayana Iyer (Dhritiman Chatterjee) who encouraged him to pursue a higher goal - that of going to Cambridge and getting his unique work published. Once in Cambridge, despite the racial abuse and neglect, he was able to live up to his goal. His brilliant mind and startling mathematical formulas floored even the better-known geniuses of that time.

Ramanujan was married at a young age to Janki (Devika Bhise) and was reared by a widowed mother (Arundhati Nag) steeped in ancient Hindu customs that even frowned on crossing the seas. The movie encapsulates Ramanujan’s conflicts with custom, alienation from the people around him and the deepest desire to master numbers while conforming within the confines of society - even as he sought to carve a unique path towards greatness.

In the toughest role of his career, Dev Patel manages to get to the ethos and nobility within but fails to shed his accent or mannered approach to performance. He doesn’t live the role - just performs it with charismatic reverence. Devika Bhise, as his lonely wife, adds enough melancholy to those brief sequences where she finds herself centre-stage. Arundhati Nag, as the loving mother, is pretty much bang on. But the film’s main strength lies in Jeremy Irons’ performance. It’s one that holds the film together and raises its worth in the eyes of the discerning. While the story is about an extra-ordinary individual it plays out as something a little too cerebral and boring to reach out to a wider audience. I hope I am wrong though!

Watch the trailer of 'The Man Who Knew Infinity'

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