The Man Who Knew Infinity: Film Review – A Laudable Effort

Verdict: Mild yet engaging.

A string of biopics have been made in Bollywood, which mostly revolve around sports, but little has ever been documented about the genius minds that originated in India. Directed by Matthew Brown, The Man Who Knew Infinity is one such story about S. Ramanujan, the impeccable Indian mathematician, who was compared to the likes of Isaac Newton and who was brilliant enough to became a Fellow of the Royal Society.


Set in Madras, when India was under the British rule, the story begins with Ramanujan (Dev Patel), brought up in a highly religious Brahmin family and a staunch believer himself, who lives in impoverishment. He searches for employment but gets none, due to which his wife is forced to stay away from him. Later, he is offered a job as an accountant during the day, in exchange for sharing his mathematics knowledge with his employer during the nights, because of which he is unable to go home. His employer soon realizes that this highbrow work of Ramanujan has to be shared with someone who understands it; it cannot die with him. So, Ramanujan writes a letter to G. H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) at Cambridge, seeking his advice for his theses. At first, Hardy thinks it is his fellow companion Littlewood (Toby Jones) playing a prank on him, only to later realize it is actually from some genius in India, because according to him no one would have the imagination to invent these theorems. Hardy then calls for him. Breaking his Brahmin laws by travelling overseas, and promising his wife that he will not forget her, Ramanujan sails for London. 

The film mostly revolves around the bond that develops between G. H. Hardy and Ramanujan, keeping the story of Ramanujan and his wife in the background. When in London, Ramanujan is in a hurry to publish his work because he just knows it’s right and he strongly believes in his intuition, while Hardy is an apostle of proof and mathematical rigor. Their relationship’s evolution from being professor-student to friends is gratifying.

Although the storyline is decent, it could have been told much better, giving us more insight into his struggles in London. The film fails to leave a lasting impression. Dev Patel tries hard but isn’t convincing enough as Ramanujan. We do not get the opportunity to feel for him, when he’s been beaten up or when he’s diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis, yet persists in writing his proofs. Jeremy Irons outshines Dev Patel, with his genuineness. In the scenes he’s with Toby Jones and other fellows at the university, their conversations are delightful and witty, giving us a few good laughs. Devika Bhise also makes a positive debut as the faithful Brahmin wife, who believes in her husband.  

Why You Should Watch This Movie:

It is the untold story of one of our greatest mathematicians, whose theories help even now to understand the behavior of black holes. As Indians, this movie should be a proud moment for us. Also, watch it for Jeremy Irons. He sure is worth the time.

Release Date: 29 April, 2016
Language: English
Director: Matt Brown
Genre: Biography, Drama
Cast & Crew: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Devika Bhise, Toby Jones
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