Shakuntala Devi is a 2020 Indian Hindi-language biographical drama film tracing the life of mathematician Shakuntala Devi, who was also known as the “human computer”.It is written and directed by Anu Menon and produced by Sony Pictures Networks India, Abundantia Entertainment and Genius Films. The film stars Vidya Balan in a titular role as Shakuntala Devi, along with Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh and Jisshu Sengupta in supporting roles while child artist Spandan Chaturvedi in her film debut gives a cameo appearance as young Shakuntala.
In 2001, Anupama Banerjee arrives in London with her husband Ajay, and reveals that she is suing her mother, Shakuntala Devi.
The film shifts to Shakuntala Devi’s childhood in Bengaluru in the 1930s, where her family discovers her incredible talent for quickly solving complex mathematical problems in her head. Her father, Bishaw, decides to use Shakuntala’s talent and have her do “math shows,” where she would entertain people with her problem solving prowess. Shakuntala continues to do math shows and earn for the family as she grows up, but blames her father for not letting her live a normal childhood. She also blames her mother for not standing up to him, especially in the wake of her sister’s death. In 1954, she leaves for London after a violent altercation with her boyfriend, Dhiraj, after she learns that he had been pretending to love her even though he had a marriage fixed and even the invites printed out.
In London, Shakuntala lives with Tarabai in her home with three other Indian men, but struggles to find opportunities for her shows. But, she eventually manages to impress Javier, a Spanish mathematician when she shows off her skills at the Royal Mathematical Society in London. He helps improve Shakuntala’s English and helps her get shows, and the pair begin a relationship as well. Shakuntala’s popularity rapidly grows, and is given the nickname “The Human Computer” after she proves a computer wrong on a TV show. She expands her global influence by performing in other countries, and becomes a worldwide celebrity. Amidst all of this, Javier ends his relationship with Shakuntala, stating that he needs to return to Spain.
In 1968, Shakuntala meets Paritosh Banerji in Mumbai, and the two quickly fall in love. The couple eventually get married and settle in Kolkata, with the aspirations of starting a family. In 1970, Shakuntala gives birth to Anupama, nicknamed Anu, and devotes her life to being a mother. However, she realizes how much she misses doing shows and decides to resume her career, leaving Anu with Paritosh. Shakuntala continues to amaze people, and even makes it into The Guinness Book of Records, but she worries about being an uncaring mother. Ultimately, she decides to take Anu with her on her travels, much to Paritosh’s dismay. They soon divorce.
While growing up, Anu travels around the world with her mother. As Shakuntala is constantly exploring new career avenues, Anu finds herself constantly ignored and disenchanted with her life. Even after enrolling Anu in a boarding school, Shakuntala uses every opportunity she can to have Anu accompany her. This reaches a breaking point when a teenage Anu lashes out at her mother for building her career at the expense of her childhood. In response, Shakuntala takes a break and settles with Anu in London, even supporting her business aspirations. This helps the two become close. Their relationship sours again when an adult Anu decides to marry Ajay Abhaya Kumar, a businessman. Shakuntala informs Ajay of her expectation of him moving with them to London, despite him being settled in Bengaluru. Anu accuses her mother of constantly holding her back and not letting her live her own life. Shakuntala, unwilling to let her daughter go, threatens to shut down Anu’s business. Anu cuts off all contact with Shakuntala, and marries Ajay. She decides to not have children, fearing that she won’t be a good mother. Despite this, Anu gives birth to a daughter, Amritha.
Anu and Ajay receive a shock when they are informed that Shakuntala used her power of attorney to sell Anu’s business properties, while giving her zero percent of the profit share. Furthermore, she passed the payment of the capital gains tax on to Anu, leaving her family in massive debt. Anu and Ajay decide to take legal action against Shakuntala, and travel to London for the proceedings. Upon their arrival, they discover that Shakuntala’s actions were a stunt, done so she could force her daughter to come see her. Shakuntala gives Anu the profit received from the sale of her properties, and asks for her forgiveness. Anu forgives her mother, and the two have an emotional reunion.
Vidya Balan as Shakuntala Devi, Paritosh’s former wife and Anupama’s mother.
Spandan Chaturvedi as teenage Shakuntala
Araina Nand as child Shakuntala
Jisshu Sengupta as Paritosh Banerjee, Shakuntala’s former husband
Sanya Malhotra as Anupama Banerjee, Shakuntala’s daughter, Ajay’s wife and Amritha’s mother.
Chahat Tewani as young Anupama
Amit Sadh as Ajay Abhaya Kumar, Anupama’s husband and Amritha’s father.
Prakash Belawadi as Bishaw Mitra Mani, Shakuntala’s father
Nisha Aaliya as Bookshop Interviewer,
Sheeba Chaddha as Tarabai, Shakuntala’s landlady in London
Vidyuth Gargi as Mohan Manhas, show host
Ipshita Chakraborty Singh as Shakuntala’s mother
Jiya Shah as Sharada Devi, Shakuntala’s sister
Renuka Sharma as Ajay’s mother
Neil Bhoopalam as Dheeraj, Shakuntala’s former boyfriend
Luca Calvani as Javier, Shakuntala’s Spanish boyfriend based in London
Lan Bailey as Mediator
Ahan Nirbhan as Srinivas Bhai, the man who spotted Shakuntala Devi’s talent in Maths when in her early childhood and tells about it to Shakuntala’s parents.
Adi Chugh as Kartar
Philip Roy as Shakuntala’s lawyer
Jack Francis as Anupama’s lawyer
Santosh Banerjee as Gordhanbhai