Director : Gnana Rajasekaran
Cast : Abhinay, Bhama, Suhasini, Sharat Babu, Kevin McGowan
After biopics like Bharati and Periyar, director Gnana Rajasekaran brings on screen, a film on Srinivasa Ramanujan. It traces the life of the mathematical prodigy from the age of 10 till his death at the age of 32. The director’s persistent effort to bring on celluloid lives of eminent people is laudable. But a movie is not only about the theme, but also about how it is presented on screen. And the presentation of the life and journey of the mathematical genius is disappointing and uninspiring.
The best part of the film is the earlier portion as a 10-year-old Ramanujan displays his acumen with numbers, impressing his seniors and school faculty. The depiction of life in the early 1900s, the tradition and values, superstitious beliefs and society’s reaction to prodigies, are all reflected here. Scenes of Ramanujan’s close bonding with his mother and his strained relationship with his father are touched upon. His stint at the Madras Port Trust to make two ends meet, his various well wishers who try to encourage him, his marriage to Janaki arranged by his mother to instill a sense of responsibility in her son — are all brought out with fair conviction. The sensitive and emotional side of the genius is depicted on many occasions as he is seen weeping uncontrollably.
But the moments that follow are hardly inspiring. Scenes of the possessive scheming mother who tries to separate the just-married couple and a bedroom song are cinematic in their execution. The research is well done, but it’s the presentation that disappoints.
It’s a challenging task, particularly for a debutant to portray a real life character. Abhinay (grandson of Gemini Ganesan) has put in a good effort. Suhasini, a natural performer otherwise, is surprisingly over the top here.
In the second half, the screenplay takes a nosedive. Particularly in the episodes at the Trinity College, Cambridge, where Ramanujan joins as a research scholar, collaborates with Hardy and earns acclaim worldwide. It’s amateurish acting by most of the foreign actors. The narration is disjointed and lacklustre. The language too seems to be a problem. The British actors talk in varied accents of English and Tamil, which is quite distracting and unnatural.
The writer-director could have had Tamil subtitles or voice-overs. Bharati was a splendid take on the revolutionary poet. Periyar fell a few notches below. However, Ramanujan has the weakest screenplays. And at 170 minutes duration, it’s too long and dreary a journey.