In a bizarre twist to Taare Zameen Par‘s Oscar tryst, award-winning mathematician Shakuntala Devi has said that Aamir Khan has stolen the idea for Taare Zameen Par from her book In the Wonderland of Numbers, that was launched in 2006.
Shakuntala Devi says her book revolves around a nine-year-old girl who hates Maths but ends up being brilliant at it. Huh?
Either Shakuntala Devi has not put across her point well or she is just talking through her hat.
Reports have said that the nine-year-old protagonist of her book, In the Wonderland of Numbers was dyslexic. If she was, then Shakuntala Devi forgot to mention it in interviews she gave in 2007.
Shakuntala Devi was quoted as saying, “I have written a book called In the Wonderland of Numbers. It’s about a young girl, Neha, who is very poor in mathematics but in a series of illusory experiences, she becomes a great mathematician.”
Orient Paperbacks that published Shakuntala Devi’s book had described In the Wonderland of Numbers as “The adventures of an engaging and talented child, Neha, In the Wonderland of Numbers is a fine way to introduce children to the concept of maths as fun activity. The specialties of each individual number, from zero to nine, and the little mathematical tricks as shown by Shakuntala Devi, all combine to make the reader learn to befriend numbers and excel at maths. Numbers are not symbols to be written on the blackboard, They are the doorway to the world of intellectual adventure. My purpose of narrating his wonderful story is to take away any fear a child may have of numbers. Numbers are fun, numbers are magical. It is my hope that this story will inspire parents and teachers to enthuse children with a life-long love for numbers and maths.”
Anyway, the story of a teacher changing the life of a student has been depicted in god knows how many movies. Besides, Amol Gupte and his wife Deepa Bhatia had conceptualized Taare Zameen Par based on a short story written by them titled High Jump. The story was translated into a full-fledged movie screenplay seven years after the story written.
Shakuntala Devi had said in an interview after the launch of her book, that she would like to make a movie based on the book. She is now saying that she wrote the book as a movie script and is now hunting for a producer to make the movie.
So why is Shakuntala Devi raising the issue a year after the release of the movie? Either it’s pique that a movie, she thinks is a lot like her book, got made, or it is a move to get free publicity, or force Aamir Khan, who has produced and directed Taare Zameen Par, to cough up.
Shankutala Devi is a mathematical genius, who at the age of six had calculated the cube root of a 15-digit number in her head in a matter of seconds. Her father was a trapeze artist and a circus peformer. In 1980, Shakuntala Devi was able to multiply two 13-digit numbers in 28 seconds.
Taare Zameen Par is India’s official entry for the upcoming 2009 Oscar award for Best Foreign Film.