“I was worst at mathematics,” actor Dev Patel candidly admitted on being asked of his interest in mathematics.
The actor who takes on the role of Indian-origin mathematician Srinivas Ramanujan in director Matthew Brown’s film The Man who Knew Infinity said his performance in the subject became an embarrassment since his father was an accountant.
“I was quite embarrassed… but hey, I am playing the role of the greatest (mathematician Srinivas Ramanujan). So, yes, there was a lot of acting involved (to cover up mathematics inabilities),” he said while speaking at the press meet on the ‘opening film’ at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Thursday.
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The actor, while refuting being typecast over his Asian looks in Hollywood, said it opened doors for him. “People use the word typecast very loosely. But looking at it rather as a challenge than obstacle, I don’t mind being an ambassador to my culture. Yes, it does require me to work hard (to fit into other roles), but there are pros and cons. In fact, it was one such project — Slumdog Millionaire — that opened doors of opportunity for me and, likewise, many other actors,” Patel said.
Speaking on his initial struggles to find producers for the movie, the director said when it came to science movies, everyone was looking for sci-fi projects like Star Wars.
“A few years back, even in India, I remember, it was difficult; there were not many takers for the story of Ramanujan. But having read the great book (The Man Who Knew Infinity) written by Robert Kanigel, I was inspired by the characters…” Brown said.
The film is based on the life of the great Indian mathematician Ramanujan, whose research in the field of number theory took the English academia by storm during the First World War. His friendship with Cambridge Professor G H Hardy forever changed the world of mathematics. His evolving friendship with the professor, who championed his brilliance against racism and prejudice, is the real core of the film.
Highly engaging performances by Dev Patel in the lead role and Jeremy Irons as his curmudgeonly mentor gradually warm up the Cambridge story.
“I even had an interaction with Robert Kanigel to understand my role as Janaki Ammal (Ramanujan’s wife), since he had spoken to her while authoring his book,” said the female protagonist, Devika Bhise, who plays Janaki in the film.