As of now, Bollywood seems to turn over a new leaf, as they’ve begun focusing on tales of the real Indian heroes. Be it the much hyped ‘Parmanu, focusing on the daring nuclear tests at Pokhran in 1998, or the masala potboiler ‘Gold’, which paid tribute to the heroes of 1948 London Olympics, or even the upcoming movies like ‘Uri’, ‘Rocketry’ etc., which focus on the bravery of the Indian armed forces and the trials and tribulations of wronged ISRO scientist S Nambi Narayanan respectively.
However, the mindset of the mainstream Bollywood, as well as their preferences, doesn’t make us think that the change might last long. Even if it does, a huge question mark will remain on one of the most high profile industries’ late turnaround in the change of narrative, and some criminal omissions might never be forgotten, one of them being depicting the life of celebrated mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan on the silver screen.
A prodigious mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan had mesmerized the world with his mathematical research and innovative discoveries, including his theories on mathematical disciplines like number theory, infinite number series, continued fractions etc. His groundbreaking theorems, as well as his eye for the unsolved equations led him to be accepted as a Fellow Member of the iconic Royal Society of London, a rare honor for any Indian.
Even though he died at the young age of 32 years, Srinivasa Ramanujan was a worldwide phenomenon in mathematics, thanks to his collaboration with Cambridge University professor and famous mathematician G H Hardy.
He was mentioned first in the iconic American film ‘Goodwill Hunting’, where a professor explains the genius of Matt Damon’s character to Robin Williams’s character by comparing Matt Damon [Will Hunting in the movie] to Srinivasa Ramanujan.
Two back to back biopics on Ramanujan, one in Tamil, and the other in English came up in 2014 and 2015 respectively, in which the latter, titled ‘The Man who Knew Infinity’ was praised by all, owing to its accurate depiction of the subject and the mathematicians involved.
What was Bollywood doing all this while? Surprisingly, and to the shame of all Hindi cinema lovers, NOTHING! The film industry, known throughout the world as the only cinema industry that could at least think of giving some competition to the iconic Hollywood, was more comfortable in defending the Pakistani artistes post Uri attacks, and glorify people like Abdul Latif [on whom the SRK starrer ‘Raees’ was based] and Sanjay Dutt than pay a generous tribute to a mathematician, whose talent and genius was unmatched throughout the world.
Why was Srinivasa Ramanujan not felicitated with a biopic from Bollywood, on the lines of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’? Was it because Ramanujan was a lesser mortal than the celebrities mentioned above? Or was it that Ramanujan’s religious identity couldn’t be digested by an overtly secular Bollywood?
It is not hidden from anybody that Srinivasa Ramanujan was a devout Hindu, who dedicated his research and theorems to his community Goddess Namakkal, the deity of Namagiri. He is also said to have famously quoted, ‘An equation for me has no meaning, until it expresses a thought of God’. Is that why Bollywood chose not to immortalize him?
This is not the first time that Bollywood has chosen the wrong heroes to glorify on silver screen. Be it glorifying Naxals through ‘Chakravyuh’, or the terrorist movement in Kashmir through ‘Lamhaa’, or even demonizing through countless movies like ‘PK’, ‘Mulk’ etc., Bollywood has hardly hidden its anti Hindu agenda from anyone. As such, it is not a surprise, if they choose to give Srinivasa Ramanujan’s biopic a deliberate miss.
However, with the success of movies like ‘The Man who Knew Infinity’, ‘Parmanu’ etc, it is unlikely that the elite Bollywood can sustain itself with this attitude forever. We hope that one day, such vicious agenda will be a thing of the past, and every noble culture shall be glorified in its true spirit.
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