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Director    :    Gnana Rajasekaran
Rating    :    9/10
Cast    :    Abhinay Vaddi, Abbas, Suhasini Maniratnam

The Story of Ramanujan must be told not because Ramanujan was an awe-inspiring mathematics prodigy but because he was born into penury and yet kept the spark of genius alive within him.  An impecunious genius rising to zenith in the face of adversity always makes an inspiring tale.

Gnana Rajasekeran’s telling saga unfolds in the British India which shows British bureaucracy in its full glory. It shows how the British Empire was more sympathetic to a prodigious young man, who showed signs of genius, than that of his fellow compatriots who showed naught but adversarial behaviour.

But I think what the movie really revealed was ‘the fault lines’. There are fault lines that keep a citizen of a third world nation from achieving his full potential. They are clearly revealed in the movie. The potent mix of crippling poverty, religious orthodoxy, mindless bureaucracy, tradition and culture that are backward looking stand as a concrete wall in front of a man who is born to realise his destiny.  There is a scene in which Ramanujan decides to forgo an offer of Research Fellowship at Cambridge for a cultural and religious reason.  

There is another scene where the head master sums up the Indian educational system by pithily stating “we don’t want genius in one subject, we want a student who is average in all.”

The most poignant scene is perhaps where Ramanujan pleads before an English officer that he just needs freedom from hunger to continue his research.  This is perhaps what Amartya sen calls as “capacity deprivation effect of poverty.”

Another interesting scene is when professors at Madras University protest against the Vice Chancellor’s decision of inducting Ramanujan into a Research Associate. When the Vice Chancellor reads out the letter from Professor Hardy of Cambridge University the professors ask that their opposition not be recorded and Ramanujan be inducted immediately!

Perhaps in future the citizens of third world would rise to realise their full potential and one day their successes will be limited not by the vagaries of fate or accidents of birth but only by how hard they are prepared to work for it.  And that day Nehru’s dream would be realised that “the soul of a nation long supressed would find its utterance.”

Overall one of the best movies, especially when one is faced with despicable alternatives and pedestrian comedies that promise to drive one insane.


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