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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Anu Menon: “Cinema is Coming to the Living Room with Shakuntala Devi”

Anu Menon is an Indian film director and screenwriter, who’s film Shakuntala Devi is set to release on Amazon Prime Video.

Things haven’t gone quite according to plan as the film will be released digitally rather than theatrically.

Of course, Menon is no stranger to the platform as she also directed the first season of Four More Shots Please!

“I think it’s a great opportunity because we are in unprecedented times and people need great entertainment.

Shakuntala Devi is a great story for people to watch about a woman who lived life to the fullest and on her own times.

As we’re all questioning our identity in the world and the future, this message in the film is right to reach the world right now.

It’s a film for the family. Usually, on digital platforms the consumption is so individualistic but here is a film that everyone can enjoy together.

So families can sit together in the living room, grab some popcorn and tissues, enjoy the film.

The cinema is coming to the living room with this movie and I’m happy that I am able to do that,” Menon explains to us.

Shakuntala Devi was popularly referred to as ‘human computer’.

She was a great mathematician, an astrologer and a cookbook author. She also wrote a book on homosexuality titled The World of Homosexuals.

The world remembers Shakuntala Devi for her Guinness World Record of correctly multiplying two randomly selected 13-digit numbers within 28 seconds.

But, it was not only her mathematical wizardry that compelled Menon to make a movie on her. She tells Filme Shilmy:

“One attempts to capture the essence and spirit of this lady, especially her attitude towards life.

As a filmmaker you choose aspects which resonates with you the most and hope that relates with the audience too.

Because we met Anupama Banerji (her daughter) spent three years speaking with her, that prism felt more powerful to me as a filmmaker, woman, mother and daughter.

So, there is a key focus on the mother-daughter angle as well as her key achievements in life.

Be it London Paris New York or Waiting, Anu has been a pioneer in relationships which are prolonged over geographical and tragic circumstances.

What strikes a chord with her in such narratives and how will we see this in her forthcoming movie?

“I feel that maybe I’m interested in the characters’ internal journies. Perhaps how they figure their place in the world. 

I like characters discovering themselves which is why even Four More Shots is unabashed as each character has a journey and finds their place in the world.

In Waiting, two people who are grieving, make peace with the fact that their loved ones are most important.

My aim is to find the humanness, flaws and vulnerabilities in a story. We all need to understand that even geniuses fail. 

They all have times when they’re down too. It is important to cover these aspects.”

Shakuntala Devi streams on Amazon Prime Video from 31st July.

Watch our interview with Anu Menon here: 


Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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