‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ brings Ramanujan’s legacy back to India

Panaji: If Richard Attenborough brought home Mahatma Gandhi by making a biopic on the ‘Father of the Nation’, young director Matt Brown has brought home the legacy of mathematics genius Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar back to India with his film “The Man Who Knew Infinity”, according to executive producer Swati Bhise.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, the host city for the 46th edition of the International Film Festival of India which opens with Brown’s film, Bhise on Thursday said the director was sensitive to a great degree as far as cinematically examining the delicate nuances of the South Indian culture and the influence of two women, Ramanujan’s mother and wife, on the country’s greatest mathematician.

“Sir Richard Attenborough had made ‘Gandhi’. But we are very happy that someone like Matt Brown has brought Ramanujan to India and with great sensitivity, he has shown the aspect of how it was in India with the relationship with his wife and his mother,” Bhise said.

“To understand two strong women, one a mother figure in the South, we know what that is. And his relationship of having to leave as a Brahmin Iyengar boy all the way to Cambridge, what a huge sacrifice that was in the pursuit of knowledge,” she said.

The film is based on the book “The Man who Knew Infinity: A life of the genius Ramanujan” written by Robert Kanigel.

Brown may have lacked the cinematic pedigree of Attenborough, but his diligence and attention to detail was remarkable, Bhise said.

“Matt worked very closely with Ken Ono and Manjul Bhargava, two leading mathematicians, who have won the Fields award and the Padmashree respectively.

“They worked for a long time, exactly on the formulas and how they were written. How partitions were done. Lot of attention was given to each aspect of the film to bring the realistic quality forward,” she said.

The fragile dilemmas of Ramanujan, a young vegetarian Iyengar boy, in England during the days of the British Raj and racism of the times have also been realistically captured, Bhise said.

“He is yearning for his home, his culture. You know the sambhar and rice and not having to eat vegetarian food. The traditions at Trinity and England at that period and whether it was racism or it was the sensitivity of food,” she said.

“So I think that it is really important that Ed (producer Edward Pressman) and Matt have made a film which takes Ramanujan from Hollywood back to India and that’s something that I think is a privilege for India to say that we celebrate Ramanujan, especially December 22, his birthday, as Mathematics Day,” Bhise added.