It’s hard to decide whether the accent that Dev Patel puts on for his part as Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar in the new biopic based on the mathematical wizard is irksome or the only way to give voice to Ramanujan.
Nevertheless, a Patel playing an Iyengar is interesting, to say the least.
In this video clip from The Man Who Knew Infinity, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 17 this year, Dev Patel’s acting chops are on full display as he launches into a tirade announcing to Jeremy Irons (playing G H Hardy) that he has a wife, at which Mr Hardy appears disturbed.
In 1914, when G H Hardy began mentoring the self-taught Indian mathematician Ramanujan, they formed a strong working relationship that at some point Hardy referred to as "the one romantic incident in his life." Is this why Mr Hardy looks perplexed at the mention of Ramanujan’s wife?
It will be interesting to see if Hardy's "notion of romance" is explored the way it was covered in David Leavitt's book, The Indian Clerk, but perhaps that's an entirely different film.
In an early review coming from the Zurich Film Festival where the film was shown last week, it was described as "an easily digestible fish-out-of-water biopic".
Born in Erode, and travelling to England during World War I, Srinivasa Ramanujan was only the second Indian citizen to be admitted into the Royal Society for his contribution to mathematics. He died at 32, just five years into his collaboration with Hardy, in 1919, leaving behind a scientific trail puzzling mathematicians to this day.
Incidentally, Hardy had once fussed about a cab he was traveling in on his way to see Ramanujan at the hospital. The cab number was 1729 which Hardy thought was a dull one. Ramanujan explained it as the "smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways". Today, this is referred to as the Hardy-Ramanujan number.
The Man Who Knew Infinity follows Ramanujan's life in England and is based on the book The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel.