In a conversation with the Vogue, Vidya Balan spoke about her character Shakuntala Devi who is a South Indian lady and believed to be an actual ‘human computer’.
A lady clad in a bright saree stands before a panel of three men who are sceptical about the ‘human computer’ legend surrounding this South Indian woman. She is asked to answer a complex mathematical sum involving eight numbers to prove her ability to solve mathematical problems faster than a computer. Sensing the panel’s disbelief, she asks them if she should deliver the answer left to right. Laughing at this, the men ask her to proceed the conventional way and she fired her answer instantly.
Dumbstruck, the panel could only stare at her and agree on her abilities. This viral YouTube clip that has raised the interest in the story of Shakuntala Devi, shows only a glimpse of the extraordinary astrologer and mathematician. This woman is all set to be represented on screen in her biopic and her character is being essayed by the extremely talented Vidya Balan.
Speaking about her character, Vidya agrees that getting into the character of a globally famous personality was daunting and also adds that the journey got more terrific as she started reading more about her. “Getting to know Shakuntala Devi was like peeling an onion”, she said and revealed that she had gone through Shakuntala Devi’s old interviews to know more about her. She also read up about her and got information from the interview given to the film’s director Anu Menon by Shakuntala Devis’s daughter and Son-in-law.
Revealing more about this inspirational woman, Vidya said that the most striking feature about Shakuntala Devi was her “immensely wicked sense of humour”. “I never associate a sense of humour with maths. It was like peeling an onion. Layer after layer began to reveal itself and I discovered new sides and aspects to her personality that I obviously didn’t know existed and I think she’s probably one of the most complicated and complex characters that I’ve played to date.”
The actress confesses that grasping the mathematics concept of the whole deal was toughest for her. According to her, Shakuntala Devi made mathematics look so fun and easy which was difficult for Vidya to comprehend and bring to life on screen, though she is a South Indian too and has been good at maths.
Previously, Vidya Balan had acted in biopics like The Dirty Picture, the unofficial biopic of Silk Smitha and also played the role of Telugu actor NTR’s wife in his biopic. “When you’re doing a biopic of a person, you need to really capture the essence of the person. You might not look like them in real life. I know I don’t look like Silk Smitha or Shakuntala Devi. The effort goes in capturing their essence, and that’s what I’ve tried to do here. Then you need to adopt some mannerisms that you can make your own. You don’t want to mimic that person, but you need some of those characteristic traits of the person…”
Well, all the best to Vidya Balan for the film releasing on July 31.