Let’s quickly do our maths. The mathematical genius S .Ramanujan was 32 when he died, leaving behind a legacy that defines genius.
Dev Patel who is all of 25 stopped growing after Slumdog Millionaire. In his subsequent films(most of them eminently forgettable) he doesn’t look older than 20. He acquired a girlfriend older than himself.And having Freida Pinto as his love interest didn’t really help Dev look any older.
Lately Dev got himself an absurd beard to look maturer.It didn’t help much.
Playing Ramanujan is the best move Dev Patel could make to erase the bitter aftertaste of his mawkish presence in M Night Shyamalan’s farcical fantasy The Last Airbender and the terrible ‘Indian’ accent in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The Man Who Knew Infinity which opened in in the UK on April 8 to very encouraging reviews, and which opens in India on April 22,proves Patel to be an actor fully in-charge of Ramanujan’s screen life. For those of us who wondered how a British Indian of Gujarati origin would play a Tamil character, the trailer provides assuaging answers. Patel speaks his lines straight and clear with the emphasis on getting the emotions right.
Miraculously Patel even looks like Ramanujan.And that’s only the start of the miraculously journey as we see Patel possess and occupy Ramanujan’s life with a selfassuredness so far seen to be lacking in the young actor’s performances.
The Man Who Knew Infinity seems to focus on the mathematical genius’ relationship with his mentor in Britain, G H Hardy , played by the very distinguished British actor Jeremy Irons. Patel plays his scenes with the veteran actor with the infinite reverence of a male ingénue . This is the spirit that the bio-pic requires from Dev Patel since Ramanujan clung to Hardy’s seniority and clout at Cambridge University to make the world believe in his mathematical wisdom.
The drama of the young callow Indian genius’ confrontation with British snobbery and Colonial skepticism , far far away from his home in a village in Tamil Nadu where his timid wife(Devika Bhise) prays for her husband’s safe return, comes across effectively in the trailer.
It looks like Dev Patel has finally found hs bearings.When you have a formidable on-screen and off-screen mentor like Jeremy Irons and a pretty expressive actress like Devika Bhise to support your efforts, you are bound to glory.