Shakuntala Devi: Much More Than A Biography

Shakuntala Devi‘ is a 2020 Indian Hindi language film directed and written by Anu Menon. It is a biographical comedy-drama based on the life story of Shakuntala Devi, who was known as “human computer“. The movie was initially set for theatre release but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was streamed worldwide on 31 July 2020 on Amazon Prime Video.


Shakuntala Devi: Plot

Indian actress Vidya Balan plays the lead character of Shakuntala Devi. The opening scene of the movie shows Anu played by Sanya Malhotra, planning to sue her mother (Shakuntala Devi). The whole movie thereby is shown as a flashback as to how did the family end up in such a situation.

Shakuntala Devi: A Genius

The movie describes the legend’s early life stages in Bangalore. Since her childhood, she had an intellectual ability to solve complex mathematical problems mentally. As a result of which, her father arranged shows for her where she could showcase her skills and entertain people. In this way at the cost of her normal childhood, she played a part in contributing to her family’s income. She accused her father of not letting her have a normal life, enjoying and chilling out like others of her age. However, she moves to London after having a breakup with her lover.


While abroad, Shakuntala Devi becomes worldwide famous and does show across many cities and countries. She acquires the title of ‘The Human-Computer’ as her popularity among the masses grows. She marries Paritosh Banerji and settles in Calcutta where she gives birth to her daughter Anupama. While trying to be a devoted mother, she feels the void of doing shows and interacting with the audience trying to show her majestic skills. Thus, she returns to her normal life of traveling and doing shows and becomes a world-famous celebrity. Meanwhile, things go out of hand in her personal life as her husband divorces her. Thus, she struggles between raising her up daughter devotedly and focussing on her career.

The Ending Explained

Shakuntala Devi supports her daughter with her business aspirations as she grows up. She tries everything she could to try to be a perfect single mother for her daughter. However, when Anupama decides to marry Ajay, Shakuntala wishes them to settle in London and not Bangalore. Relations turn sour as she accuses her mother of always forcing her personal priorities before Anu’s wishes. She states Shakuntala of building a career at the cost of her childhood ( similar to something Shakuntala told her father when she was a child). Shakuntala threatens to bring her business down, but Anupama leaves her and goes on to have a wedding with Ajay.

Did Anu forgive her?

Vidya as Shakuntala Devi and Sanya as Anu
Source: Amazon Prime

Also read: Bulbbul: A Very Interesting Feminist Thriller

As the movie reaches its end, Anupama and Ajay get a piece of shocking news about Shakuntala Devi selling Anu’s business properties and has left her in debt. The flashback comes to a circle and the movie reaches its starting scene as Anu and Ajay arrive in London to confront her.

However, this was just Shakuntala’s trap so that she could have her daughter to visit her. She did not care about the business or the profits but in reality, just craved for her daughter’s presence in her life. Shakuntala Devi gives Anu the profit received from the sale of her properties. She asks for forgiveness. Anupama forgives her mother, the family has an emotional moment, eventually, they reunite to have a happy ending to the movie.

Thus, the movie is an authentic feminist entertainer. Rather than entirely being a biopic, the movie beautifully describes a mother-daughter tale and also the struggles women face while balancing their personal and professional life.

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