Ramanujan is a Tamil movie about the life of the famous mathematician (of the same name). I went to see this movie in the Abirami complex today just to see how they have filmed a subject like this. I mean, how do you explain what a mathematician has achieved? As expected, they didn’t go much into the math concepts – which would have been difficult for viewers to decipher anyway – but they concentrate more on the significant events in his life.
Let’s admit that filming a simple story of a mathematician who went from Kumbakonam to Cambridge during the pre-Independence days is a huge challenge. I mean, it’s not possible to dramatize the events beyond a point, and you cannot exactly explain the highlight of his career – his contributions in mathematics!
But instead, they’ve shown everything else – how life was during those days, their beliefs, how a simple man passionate about numbers struggles to make a living but is still adamant about continuing his research, how the relationship between him and his family played a crucial part, how people around him helped without expecting anything in return (including the British), etc.
At some places, they’ve dramatized his life and those scenes were surprisingly interesting. The story itself was like a documentary, but a well made documentary. The romance seems out of place (for this movie), and they’ve somehow managed Englishmen speaking in Tamil in a realistic way. They’ve reproduced the period setting quite well – both in England and India. They’ve also used the appropriate Tamil slang, which gives us a feel of the period setting.
Ramanujan was a mathematical genius. He became one without formal training and had to struggle throughout to achieve what he did. I guess it’s the same with all geniuses. In fact, the character even wonders why society encourages averegism and places so many obstacles in the path of geniuses – it’s a valid question and something to ponder about.
This movie also talks about how passion can make all the difference. In spite of all the odds, Ramanujan’s passion for numbers kept him number crunching until his last breath. Literally!
I think a book can do more justice to a subject like this. There is one – I’ll try to read it sometime. The movie is fine – just don’t expect gripping suspense, masala or action! If you like literary fiction, you’ll like this movie. I think there is an English version of this movie as well.
It’s amazing to see how many leading stars from Tamil cinema have acted in such an offbeat movie. Nice tribute to a great man!