Hollywood Flick Creates Buzz About Indian Maths Genius Ramanujan

The movie was based on the book written by Robert Kanigel on Ramanujan’s life.

2 min read
A screengrab from the trailer of the movie <i>The Man who Knew Infinity: A life of the genius Ramanujan </i>based on the life of Indian mathematician, Ramanujan. (Photo Courtesy: Youtube/<a href="">Movieclips Trailers</a>)

The academic world has always taken “great interest” in Indian mathematical genius Srinavasa Ramanujan’s path-breaking works, but the Hollywood film “The Man Who Knew Infinity” has brought more public attention on the scientist, says noted mathematician and Ramanujan expert, Krishnaswami Alladi.

Indian-origin mathematician, Alladi, of the University of Florida and also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Ramanujan Journal, says the 19 century scientist’s legacy (a college drop-out who revolutionised the field of mathematics in his short life of 32 years) should inspire youngsters to pursue a subject out of pure passion and not fashion.

There has always been great interest in Ramanujan’s work in the academic world, especially the world of mathematics. Robert Kanigel’s book did a lot to attract the attention of the general public worldwide. Now with the movie, there is even greater attention among the general public.
Krishnaswami Alladi, expert on Indian mathematician Ramanujam

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

Ramanujan: A Self-Taught Genius

In the film set in 1913, actor Dev Patel plays Ramanujan, a 25-year-old shipping clerk and self-taught genius, who failed college due to his near-obsessive, solitary study of mathematics.

Dev Patel as Ramanujan in the movie <i>T</i><i>he Man who Knew Infinity: A life of the genius Ramanujan</i>. (Photo Courtesy: Youtube/<a href="">Movieclips Trailers</a>)
Dev Patel as Ramanujan in the movie The Man who Knew Infinity: A life of the genius Ramanujan. (Photo Courtesy: Youtube/Movieclips Trailers)

It also tackles Ramanujan’s dilemmas as a young vegetarian Iyengar boy in England, during the days of the British Raj and racism with World War I in the backdrop.

Alladi rues that the discrimination part, in general, has been carried a bit too far.

There is discrimination everywhere in the world in one form or the other. We should accept the fact that the British did recognise Ramanujan by electing him Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1918 (despite opposition) even though he did not have a college degree.
Krishnaswami Alladi, expert on Indian mathematician Ramanujam

Ramanujan an Inspiration to Modern-Day Mathematicians

Ramanujan returned to India in 1919, “a very sick man” and died in April 1920 in Chennai (then Madras).

The Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy (SASTRA University) purchased his home in Kumbakonam and is maintaining it as a museum. Apart from 22 December, which is observed as National Mathematics Day, there are innumerable conferences, books, and films (the 2014 Tamil film “Ramanujan”) that serve as constant reminders of his contributions, which also impacted physics and computer science.

Alladi believes the younger generation in India should know about Ramanujan and his life, and should be inspired to choose Mathematics for passion rather than fashion.

Ramanujan’s life and work should inspire youth in the current era to pursue a subject passionately, for the love of it (be it science, poetry, or painting). One should not take up a field because it is fashionable or lucrative. If you pursue a subject in which you are passionately interested, then you will succeed and make a fundamental contribution.
Krishnaswami Alladi, expert on Indian mathematician, Ramanujam

(With IANS inputs)

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