The film brings to light little-known nuggets about the young mathematician
Genius and eccentricity often go hand in hand and mathematics wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan best exemplified this.
Now, a biopic will try and unravel the mystique around Ramanujan by presenting him as a man whose genius was not recognised by society.
“The crux of my film is Indian society’s failure to handle a genius,” said Gnana Rajasekaran, director of the biopic Ramanujan, which will be released both in Tamil and English.
“Eccentricities of a genius are seen as abnormalities and society resorts to corrective measures to purge the person. It seeks to convert him into an average person,” said the civil servant-turned-film maker who had earlier made biopics of national poet Subramania Bharathiyar and Dravidar Kazhagam founder E.V. Ramasamy Periyar.
Though an outstanding mathematician, Ramanujan failed in his intermediate examinations and ran away from home. A notice in The Hindu on September 2, 1905, issued by his father announced that the boy was missing.
“This again reiterates my argument that India as a society could not nurture geniuses even from the pre-Vedic period. Despite the fact that he was a Brahmin, a dominant community, Ramanujan’s genius was not recognised,” said Mr Rajasekaran.
Besides Prof G.H. Hardy, who spotted the talent of Ramanujan and brought him to Cambridge, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar of The Hindu stood by the young mathematician and visited him in England.
“He spent time with Ramanujan and relished the pongal prepared by him. He was among the personalities in Chennai who received Ramanujan after his return from England. It was Kasturi Ranga Iyengar who arranged the cremation of Ramanujan as many of his relatives, upset with his visit to a foreign land, stayed away,” said Mr Rajasekaran.
Referring to the novel, ‘The Indian Clerk’ by David Leavitt, which deals with Ramanujan’s life, the film-maker said he consciously avoided details from the book as it captured the mathematician from the eyes of a westerner.
“I want to present Ramanujan from the Indian point of view,” said Mr Rajasekaran, while explaining why he filmed a third of the film in England, one portion in Chennai and another in Kumbakonam.
The casting includes 120 English actors and the lead role has been done by Abhinay Vaddi, grandson of late Gemini Ganesan. English actor Kevin McGowan appears as G.H. Hardy; Michael Lieber as Littlewood; Nizhalgal Ravi as Srinivasa Raghava Iyengar, Ramanujan’s father; Suhasini Maniratnam as Komalatammal, his mother, and Bhama as his wife Janaki.
“As we are making the film in both the languages, Tamil actors have delivered English dialogues for the English version and English actors Tamil dialogues for the Tamil version. The commitment of English actors in learning Tamil dialogues needs special mention,” said Mr Rajasekaran.
The director, who believes in making “honest cinema”, said: “There is no need to introduce dance and comedy tracks to retain the interest of the audience.”