Vidya Balan won praise for her portrayal of globally renowned mathematical savant Shakuntala Devi in the recently released trailer of the film Shakuntala Devi. In the short clip, Devi is shown as a wonder woman who answers complex mathematical problems within seconds. But who was this genius and how did she achieve such international acclaim?
Shakuntala Devi was born in 1929 to Kannadiga parents. Her ability to solve complex mathematical problems amazed her family and relatives from an early age. This was more astounding as she had not received any formal schooling. She demonstrated her remarkable brain skills at public shows with the help and encouragement of her father, who was a circus performer.
Soon her shows picked up craze as people could not believe her immense grip on the huge numbers. This earned her enough money to help contribute to the family. Devi was popular enough in the following years to set out for an Europe tour in 1950.
Twenty seven years later, the prodigy competed with a UNIVAC computer to find the 23rd root of a 201-digit number. She completed her calculation in 50 seconds which was 12 seconds faster than the computer.
The miracle woman also holds a Guinness Book World Record for correctly multiplying two randomly selected 13-digit numbers within 28 seconds.
But she did not remain limited to the world of mathematics. She ventured into Hindu astrology and wrote puzzle books. One of her most remarkable feats are writing ‘The World of Homosexuality’ which was the first study on homosexuality in India, published in the year 1977.
Shakuntala Devi starring Vidya Balan premiers on Amazon Prime Video on July 31. The biographical film has been written and directed by Anu Menon.