Shakuntala Devi – Lessons for the mother and daughter in me!

Yesterday I happened to watch Shakuntala Devi on Amazon prime. It is a wonderful movie made on the life of the Math wizard Shakuntala Devi. She was also recorded in Guinness book of world records for her incredible capabilities at mental calculations.

I had heard of her in my younger days. Even remember seeing advertisements in newspaper about her. But I was never a Math person and thus did not take much interest apart from the above information.

Image courtsey

The movie made me totally fall in love with her. Her personality was so impressive. Her accomplishments were incredible! After watching the movie I went on to read more of her. Even YouTube now is full of videos of her. While watching the movie I did feel at times that perhaps it is overdramatized, but seeing her in her live performances in these archived videos dispelled all doubts. She was in fact a dramatic personality.

Frankly speaking Math is so boring (I apologise if I hurt any Math geeks ), it was only her colourful personality and humorous side that attracted people to her. Of course her ability at that was incredible but I think her personality made it even more interesting for onlookers.

Now the movie really does not cover her journey to stardom in much detail, which was something I would have loved to see more of, but concentrated more around her relationship with her daughter. The movie is a narration by her daughter so obviously it had to be so. The movie starts with her daughter moving the court against her mom and how she has totally messed up her life. But the most beautiful part is that despite of the strained relationship the movie depicts, it ends with the daughter understanding her mother. And even more beautiful is how well this daughter has narrated her mom’s emotions. Though through the movie I did keep feeling she is not being a fair mom, eventually it showed me the mirror of being judgmental.

A very beautiful dialogue and scene in the movie is when the daughter has her own daughter, and is distraught that her mom in law had to step in because she could not calm her wailing child. She is whining to her mother in law that she is a failed mother, she just isn’t meant for it. The mom in law at this point tells her that “no mom is perfect”. When we love too much we are wrong, when we are strict we are wrong. And it is so true. Even though as a mom we just want to do the bestest for our little child, we really cannot be perfect!

This was an important learning and lesson!

The movie shows Shakuntala Devi angry with her mother for not having stood up for herself and her. Her daughter in turn is angry at her for not sparing enough time for her and being too wrapped up in her own success. One disturbed childhood gave rise to another and then another.

Eventually it is when Shakuntala Devi goes back to her hometown to connect with her mother {who is no more), when she no longer could connect to her own daughter, does she find in a box memories of her saved by her mother. She is in tears knowing that all this while she hated her mom, her mom was following her stardom.

So at this point she decides she does not want to do the same mistakes with her daughter. She does not want to leave the world without reconciling with her precious daughter. And so in her own dramatic manner brings her daughter to her face to face.

Now I am not really a movie person (not anymore). But I do love to watch biopics or something recommended by my group of friends. Also Vidya Balan is my favourite performer and I had to watch this one! On that note I would really like to appreciate the awesome performance by Vidya Balan. She is undoubtedly an awesome actor and I think she was just perfect for this role!

Watching the movie made me have some thoughts related to parenting and especially for women who have ambitions and desires for themselves too, no matter how big or small.

Parenting lessons from Shakuntala Devi

Firstly I feel that balancing work and home as a mother is a big challenge. No matter how well we try to do it we will keep going wrong every now and then.

In her case I thought that at one point she was too absorbed in her life and her need to be with her daughter to give any due considerations for her daughter’s needs. And at another time she just puts a full stop to all that she was doing to be with her daughter. I thought in both the cases she was highly driven by emotions and operating on the extremes.

So for me as someone with ambitions and goals of my own, it is a very big reminder to stop and check every now and then that I balance my love for my daughter and my work or my own needs.

Remember being passionate about your work is a good thing, but bein possessed by it is not good.

I am in no way being judgmental, because no mother can really judge what the other mother went through. I am just trying to take back a learning for myself. It is but wise that we learn from other people’s life instead of making our own blunders.

Secondly I learnt that we must be more open and vocal with the people we love. If only Shakuntala’s mother had told her she loves her even though she does not have the courage to go against her father. Or Shakuntala told her daughter that she means a lot and is proud of her accomplishments.

Thirdly we as parents must love our children unconditionally. We must let them be and go where their heart takes them. Even though we birth them we are not entitled to decide their fate.

Also an advice for every grown up daughter and son. Do not be judgmental of your mother or parents. They always want the best for you. Sadly only once we step in their roles we understand and reconcile with the hardships they went through to bring us up. Parenting is not easy ever!

You may not appreciate many of their actions. It is quite possible that you look back to many a things from your childhood with resentment. But no reason is good enough to stay angry with your parents!

Even in the movie I could feel the anger in Shakuntala stemming from the fact that her mom was not expressive of her love. Love was the reason of the anger, why not express love rather than storing anger. Lack of expression of love is in these cases, I feel, the cause of anger So perhaps in such a case the child must make an effort to connect. And do it before it is too late!

Did you watch the movie too? What was your takeaway? How did you like the movie? If you have not seen the movie but this this interests you, do watch the movie. I am sure you will love it!

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I am a health enthusiast, healer and an artist and apart for these most importantly i am mommy to an angel and wife to a gentleman. I use to teach management graduates but post my daughter happened my time at home gave me chance to explore my other passions. Now as she is 5 year old I am still not ready to leave her and return to work.

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1 Response

  1. vikramgodara28 says:

    You are superb. You express the thing so well. I watch the movie and forget everything. You are not less than shakuntla devi, because everyone has some great quality. You are a great writer and great yoga practioner and spiritual person. Keep it up. Thanks for the wonderful article you share.

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