In the 1910s, Srinivasa Ramanujan is a man of boundless intelligence that even the abject poverty of his home in Madras, India, cannot crush. Eventually, his stellar intelligence in mathematics and his boundless confidence in both attract the attention of the noted British mathematics professor, G.H. Hardy, who invites him to further develop his computations at Trinity College at Cambridge. Forced to leave his young wife, Janaki, behind, Ramanujan finds himself in a land where both his largely intuitive mathematical theories and his cultural values run headlong into both the stringent academic requirements of his school and mentor and the prejudiced realities of a Britain heading into World War One. Facing this with a family back home determined to keep him from his wife and his own declining health, Ramanujan joins with Hardy in a mutual struggle that would define Ramanujan as one of India's greatest modern scholars who broke more than one barrier in his worlds.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Man's recognition of a true genius and his untimely demise is the ultimate human tragedy
Ramanujan is a name like Beethoven or Picaso. You don't need to know their history. You don't need to know about their life. Their work speaks for them. While common people try to review and measure what they see, geniuses imagine completely new things that could exist. The Man Who Knew Infinity is just a movie based on a book based on the life of a genius. How can we even expect it to tell us all that is there to know about him? Still, it does its job fairly and with sincerity.
The striking difference between this movie and A Beautiful Mind, another biopic about a mathematical genius, is that of the tone. Sure, the portrayal of a genius struggling with schizophrenia makes for a more compelling story but is by no means tragic. How an unlikely partnership slowly turns into a mutual respect and finally into a meaningful yet short-lived friendship is at the core of the Ramanujan-Hardy story. As Hardy addresses his interactions with Ramanujan akin to a romantic affair, he encapsulates their common passion for maths and their devotion to the craft. It was a rare symphony of two souls that happens once in ages. The profundity of that is realised when one feels the pain of Hardy in coming to terms with the fact that he'll never see Ramanujan again. For that matter both Dev Patel's and Jeremy Iron's acting are utterly spellbinding. In that regard, this movie is filled with great performers and they all do their part very satisfyingly. It is like watching good theatre.
The seemingly unnecessary struggles of a capable man can be seen as a reality check. It is almost brutal to watch our hero suffer because of some petty issues that simply grow big because of either personal inhibitions or neglect. Case in point, Ramanujan's deteriorating health. There are always worldly limitations that tend to plague the best of us. Moreover, Ramanujan lived in troubled times. He was poor and being an autodidact didn't help his cause either. Ramanujan was an exceptional man surrounded by ordinary people who did deeply care for him but hardly understood him. Hardy was probably the only one who came close to appreciating him but had no experience in dealing with such a cultural disparity. The movie doesn't try to gloss over these circumstances. These are some of the things in this period drama that set it apart. I hope the generation that seeks to alter the truth for excitement rather than get bored by the depth of emotion can fathom that.
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