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Shakuntala Devi Proved That Women Are Often Taken For Granted Even By Their Daughters

Posted: September 2, 2020

Anu Menon, the director, said she wanted to showcase the mother-daughter relationship which has never received as much attention as mother-son and father-daughter relationships.

Shakuntala Devi premiered on Amazon prime, a day after her daughter, Ms. Anupama, officially received the Guinness record certification for her mother’s record in 1980 after the movie team spearheaded by Vidya Balan processed the official work for it.

Even this inordinate delay is not as flawed as the daughter’s relationship with her mother in my opinion. Women are taken for granted even by their own daughters – And this movie shows how.

Anu Menon, the director, said she wanted to showcase the mother-daughter relationship which has never received as much attention as mother-son and father-daughter relationships. And does this answer people’s concern on why they had gone about in a touch-and-go manner about Devi’s genius?

If not for the disclaimer that the movie is based on what Anupama shared, the storyline shall be brushed off as yet another insensitivity, to appease the ‘masala’-craving audience. But, this comes straight from the woman who shared that specific bond and post-release, she expressed gladness over whatever was shown in the movie.

If this is her stand, me nit-picking her insensitive relationship with her mother is justified.

In a dramatic scene, Devi wants to sign a single cheque transferring all the money to her daughter. In reality, Devi made a single will acceding most of her property to a trust, and her daughter sat through a court settlement to claim a part of it for her.

An unconventional, unapologetic woman

Shakuntala Devi is understandably a story of an unapologetic woman. There is no reason to expect anything involving her to fit into conventionalism. So was her relationship with her daughter. I respect that. She was not that stereotypical mother to advise her daughter to settle down, instead wants her to explore the world. And interact with people across the world than go to an uncreative regular school. There are some old school thinking as well. No denying that.

But, the daughter seemed to be a carbon copy of many toxic kids dealing with their parents.

There were cutesy scenes and songs to introduce to us their relationship. Then comes a few minor fights to imply how the mother had kept her daughter from proper schooling and her father, etc. But, still there are no major disagreements yet and the story progresses.

Next comes the boyfriend. The daughter wants her family to behave ‘normal’ to not scare her would-be in-laws. This is the first of the many face-palming moments that followed. However, they all act along and we proceed to the marriage preparation stage.

But, Devi is far from ‘normal’. She gets to know that her son-in-law intends to be with Anupama in Bangalore, not, London, where she was settled till now. When he says that is normal, she promptly confronts him as to why the son’s parents expecting daughter-in-law to be with them is normal, but, not the other way around. To which he tells her to ask her daughter itself what she wants.

By this, I understand the daughter never cared to tell her mother, her decision about moving to Bangalore yet. But, without wasting a second she revolts with her mother for showing him, her C-section stitches and storms out of the house.

A chip on the daughter’s shoulder

Rationality seems to never touch the surface. Any daughter would try to get back to her mother once the storm settles. But, she goes on to adamantly ignore her so much so that Devi doesn’t even get to know her daughter’s delivery.

Also, they tell us that the daughter is not as competitive as her mother, which is fine. But what is not ok is the irritation she displays at the drop of a hat, whenever someone mentions her mother in a good sense. I understand it would grate anyone’s nerves to be asked by everyone to do a math problem to prove her lineage with Devi, but, how is her mother supposed to be responsible for others behaviour?

She receives big fat checks from the same ‘intelligent’ mother to develop her business, but, could not stand people praising her mom before her. Seriously?

Calling a woman not able to defend herself a liar

Another problematic issue is the way they blatantly made Shakuntala a liar.

Her daughter unabashedly went on to say that her mother fabricated about her father being gay, just to sell her book. We do not know the authenticity of this claim. But, is it fair to make such accusations now when she is dead, but, not when she had all that sweet time with her alive? How convenient!

To the end, when they reconcile, we are made to sit through to hear from Devi, that her son-in-law is indeed a good person. Ultimately, that seems to be the message Anupama wanted to deliver. That her mother was wrong in judging him and finally understood how noble a human her marvellous husband is.

Come to think of it, Had Devi not sent a legal notice and made an emotional drama out of it, there would have been no such magnanimous realisation from the daughter’s part.

Don’t call it a ‘biopic’ then

The daughter did sneakily sell her version of the story under the pretense of a biopic, which was supposed to carry forward the maths prodigy’s legacy. This movie is more of an egoistic affair of the daughter to go on a proving-spree.

My father is not gay – check
My husband is awesome – check
My quarrels with my mother are justified – Check
We have reconciled and I’m qualified to receive all her accolades now – Check

But, Shakuntala never bothered to prove anyone any damn thing except her answers to a math puzzle.

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