Dev Patel’s numerical woes

Actor received help from mathematician Ken Ono for ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’


Ians April 20, 2016
Dev made his Hollywood breakthrough in Slumdog Millionaire. PHOTO: FILE

MUMBAI: Hollywood actor Dev Patel — who plays the role of late Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in The Man Who Knew Infinity — found it difficult to break down complex mathematical formulas while shooting for the upcoming film. Therefore, Japanese-American mathematician Ken Ono had to be hired by the producers to help Dev understand his character better.

“I was involved because they wanted to get their mathematics right and before I knew it, I was on the sets in England, helping out with so many different things,” Ken said, in a statement. “It was, of course, difficult to explain how to be a mathematician to someone who is not a mathematician,” he added.

Ken went on to reveal what he thought was the best part of the film. “My favourite scene is where Dev completes a complex mathematical formula on the blackboard and you can see that he is doing it in real time,” he shared. “My challenge was to select a formula that he could remember easily and complete it in the sequence.”

The formula for success

Though Srinivasa had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and continued fractions, before passing away at the age of 32 in 1920. Written and directed by Matthew Brown, The Man Who Knew Infinity is a biography of Srinivasa, slated to release on April 29. It also stars actors Jeremy Irons, Devika Bhise, Stephen Fry, Toby Jones and Arundhati Nag.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2016.

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