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Vidya Balan: Shakuntala Devi is not a puff piece

Bollywood actor Vidya Balan plays the titular role in Shakuntala Devi. The film, also starring Jisshu Sengupta, Sanya Malhotra and Amit Sadh, releases on Amazon Prime Video on July 31.

When the trailer of Shakuntala Devi first dropped, it made me wonder that out of all the contemporary Indian actors, there was no one I could imagine in this role, but Vidya Balan. If that’s the magic of Vidya or the role that was tailor-made for her, is something we’ll know after the film premieres on Friday on Amazon Prime Video. However, from what we have seen so far, Vidya takes on the persona of Shakuntala Devi quite well.

In an exclusive virtual conversation with indianexpress.com, Vidya Balan shared her joys of playing Shakuntala Devi, who was nicknamed the “Human Computer”. Vidya too knew Shakuntala as an exemplary mathematician, but as she delved deeper into her life with director Anu Menon, she learnt that the academician “defied every notion you have of a mathematical genius.” “She was so full of life, had a wicked sense of humour. She was like a complex equation,” the actor shared.

While this film is a biopic, Vidya acknowledged that it is “not a puff piece.” What excited her while taking up this project was “the scope to tell Shakuntala Devi’s story as unapologetically as possible.” What the actor said about this not being a “puff piece” intrigued me as many-a-times in Hindi cinema, we see hagiographies in the garb of biographies. Vidya kept the film’s secrets close to her chest but did reveal that we are in for a story that examines the gender dynamics of the time.

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