A Maths romantic gets his due

A Maths romantic gets his due

A Maths romantic gets his due
The Man Who
Knew Infinity
English (U)
Director: Matthew Brown
Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, Stephen Fry, Arundhati Nag, Devika Bhise, others

The Man Who Knew Infinity focuses on the East-West conflict, and close relationship of two men with contrasts; Srinivasa Ramanujan (Patel), a semi-educated accountant from semi-tropical Madras, who leaves his wife Janaki (Bhise) and mother Komalatammal (Nag) behind, and Hardy (Irons), a Cambridge professor. It’s their passion for Mathematics that unites them although Ramanujan is a devout, strictly vegetarian and orthodox Brahmin who credits God for his theorems and formulae, as opposed to Hardy, who is an atheist and demands proof for Ramanujan’s insights. Though based on Robert Kenigal’s book, the film isn’t a true biography.

In his short 32-year life, Ramanujan met with hostility and racism not only from Trinity College faculty, but also from envious students drafted to war who tell him to go home. Even as he gets sick with TB as the days pass, he wins applauds from the very professors who in the beginning scoffed at Ramanujan.

A lanky Patel might not suit the chubby Ramanujan we know. In 2012, Madhavan was to essay the lead role, however the makers wanted an international actor. Patel isn’t bad, except for his mutilation of south Indian words. Also, in reality, Janaki was only 10 when she married Ramanujan. In the film, Janaki looks in her early 20s, although age is not revealed.

Irons, Jones as Littlewood and Fry as Sir Francis Spring deliver the goods. Replicating the complex world of mathematicians so as to appeal to non-mathematicians isn’t easy, and Brown does a remarkable job at that. The period setting and attention to detail is bang on. After films on John Nash, Stephen Hawking, Alan Turing and Steve Jobs, it’s good to see one of the most romantic figures in Mathematics get his due.
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