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DIFF welcomes a passage to ‘infinity’ featuring Indian mathematician
BY IMRAN MOJIB December 13, 2015
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DUBAI: ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity,’ a biopic of Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, received a rousing welcome from the audience as the movie had a gala screening at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 2015 on Saturday in the presence of cast and crew of the film.

The inspirational biopic, featuring terrific performances by Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel, and Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, is a celebration of the book-to-screen artistic achievement as director Matt Brown has transported this captivating story of the genius mathematician, written by Robert Kanigel, in an equally fascinating manner to the big screen.

The biography was written by Kanigel in 1991 and won him acclaim as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, New York Public Library, Book to Remember and a Library Journal, Best Sci-Tech Book and many other accolades.

Making a film from a book is a daunting task, with huge responsibilities for both the author, who wants to remain true to his work, and the director, who needs to make his own impression. But Matthew Brown, who wrote the screenplay, directed and produced the film, as well as the author Robert Kanigel appeared proud of the final outcome as they met the local media at Diff prior to the screening.

Sharing the experience of transporting the exceptional story of Ramanujan from book-to-screen, they observed that the relationship between literature and films has often been controversial but so often one can complement the other. There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to treat a subject, and the written word and the acted scene can create a more complete picture.

Brown said, “My aunt presented me with Robert Kanigel’s book. I was so fascinated by the depth with which Ramanujan pursued his dream and his journey was so inspiring, that I decided to make this film.”

He added, “I found Ramanujan’s personal relationships amazing. I also loved the idea that for the man, his mathematics was infused with spirituality.”

Talking about the challenge of conveying the nuances of the complexity of mathematical formula yet retaining the reader’s interest, Kanigel said that it was impossible to convey the depth Ramanujan had about mathematics.

He added, “The Man Who Knew Infinity is not only about mathematics, it is about the powerful bond between Ramanujan and his mentor, Professor GH Hardy, and how it shaped their lives. Thus it was quite easy to just play around this human relationship. But I was not ready to ignore the aspect that gave Ramanujan his identity. I realised that the readers must have an idea of his love for mathematics and his persuasion which made Ramanujan the person we know. So I tried to give a glimpse to them in the easiest possible manner.”

Brown said that he was not sure when he first read the book, as it gave a philosophical glimpse into the person and his mathematical genius.

“Yes, it was a challenge to address the mathematics and put it as a part of the film. But I am sure you will be able to relate to Ramanujan’s relations with mathematics,” he added.

Dev Patel, who played the role of Ramanujan in the film, praised Jeremy Irons and said it was an incredible experience.

“Irons made me refined and helped me understand Ramanujan and his love, his pursuit of mathematics. The film has ignited the kind of interest that suits a man of his stature.”
 

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