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Shakuntala Devi: 19 Facts About India's Mathematics Wizard, Known As The 'Human Computer'

Recently, the trailer of the upcoming Bollywood movie 'Shakuntala Devi' was released with Bollywood actress Vidya Balan in and as Shakuntala Devi. The movie will stream on Amazon Prime Video on 31 July 2020. The trailer shows how beautifully and effortlessly Vidya Balan has portrayed the role of Shakuntala Devi, a mathematics wizard who is famously known as the 'Human Computer'. After watching the trailer we have got an idea of how brilliant Shakuntala Devi was and the way she showcased her exceptional mathematical skills.

The movie will revolve around the life of Shakuntala Devi and like us, you too may be eager to know more and more about this woman. Here are some lesser known and interesting facts related to Shakuntala Devi.

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1. Shakuntala Devi was born on 4 November 1929 to Kannadiga parents in Bangalore.

2. Since the very beginning, she possessed an exceptional skill of memorising numbers too quickly.

3. Her parents belonged to a Brahmin household. Her father had rebelled against becoming a temple priest. Instead he went on to work as a lion tamer, trapeze artists, magician and a tightrope walker at a circus.

4. He noticed his daughter's talent of memorising numbers quite quickly while he was teaching her a card trick. At that time Shakuntala was just three years old.

5. Shakuntala's father soon left the circus and took his daughter on road shows to showcase her exceptional calculation and memorising skills.

6. At the age of six, she showcased her calculation skills at the University of Mysore.

7. It was in the year 1944, when she moved to London with her father. Since then she travelled across the world, demonstrating her talent. She also went to a tour across Europe in 1950 and performed in New York City in 1976.

8. In 1977, she was asked to give the 23rd root of a 201 digit number. She gave the answer in just 50 seconds. The answer was then confirmed by the UNIVAC 1101 computer at the US Bureau of Standards. You won't believe but a special computer program was written to calculate such a large number.

9. In 1977, she penned the book The World of Homosexuals. This was the first study of homosexuality in India and she later revealed that she was interested in the topic, as her husband turned out be gay.

10. On 18 June 1980, she was asked to multiply two 13-digit numbers, 7,686,369,774,870 and 2,465,099,745,779. The numbers were picked randomly by the Computer Department of Imperial College London. She gave the answer 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in less than 28 seconds. This event gave her a place in the Guinness Book Of Records. According to Writer Steven Smith "The result is so far superior to anything previously reported that it can only be described as unbelievable."

11. Shakuntala Devi also made a documentary titled For Straights Only. She revealed in the dcoumentary that her interest in this topic was due to her marriage to a homosexual man. This urged her to know homosexuality closely.

12. She travelled to the US in 1988 to let her abilities be studied by Arthur Jensen, a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, Berkeley.

13. Jensen closely studied the abilities of Shakuntala Devi by giving her some really large numbers to calculate, including the cube root of 61,629,875 and the seventh root of 170,859,375. He said that Shakuntala Devi provided the answers of the questions as 395 and 15 even before he had copied the numbers.

14. Shakuntala Devi came back to India in 1960 and married Paritosh Banerjee, who served as an officer in the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) in Kolkata. However, the couple divorced in 1979.

15. Shakuntala Devi also contested the 1980 Lok Sabha Elections from South Mumbai and Medak (now in Telangana). She stood against Indira Gandhi as an independent candidate. She couldn't win the election but stood ninth with 6,514 votes.

16. In the early 1980s, Shakuntala Devi returned to Bangalore. She then also started to pen down many books on her mental methods of calculation. She also wrote some cookbooks and novels based on the calculation.

17. Very few people know that Shakuntala Devi was also an astrologer.

18. In April 2013, when Shakuntala Devi was admitted to a hospital in Bangalore after she complained of difficulty in breathing. For two weeks, she suffered some complications in the kidneys and heart. Shakuntala Devi died on 21 April 2013.

19. Shakuntala Devi is survived by her daughter and only child Anupama Banerjee, played by actress Sanya Malhotra in the movie.

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