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The Man Who Knew Infinity

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The Man Who Knew Infinity
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatthew Brown
Screenplay byMatthew Brown
Based onThe Man Who Knew Infinity
by Robert Kanigel
Produced byEdward R. Pressman
Jim Young
Joe Thomas
StarringDev Patel
Jeremy Irons
Devika Bhise
Toby Jones
Stephen Fry
Jeremy Northam
Kevin McNally
Enzo Cilenti
Arundhati Nag
Dhritiman Chatterjee
CinematographyLarry Smith
Edited byJC Bond
Music byCoby Brown
Pressman Film
Xeitgeist Entertainment Group
Cayenne Pepper Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures (United Kingdom)
Mister Smith Entertainment (International)
Release dates
  • 17 September 2015 (2015-09-17) (TIFF)
  • 8 April 2016 (2016-04-08) (United Kingdom)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$12.3 million[2]

The Man Who Knew Infinity is a 2015 British biographical drama film about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, based on the 1991 book of the same name by Robert Kanigel.

The film stars Dev Patel as Srinivasa Ramanujan, a real-life mathematician who, after growing up poor in Madras, India, earns admittance to Cambridge University during World War I, where he becomes a pioneer in mathematical theories with the guidance of his professor, G. H. Hardy, portrayed by Jeremy Irons.

Filming began in August 2014 at Trinity College, Cambridge after eight years in development.[3] The film had its world premiere as a gala presentation at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival,[4][5] and was selected as the opening gala of the 2015 Zurich Film Festival.[6] It also played other film festivals including Singapore International Film Festival[7] and Dubai International Film Festival.[8]


At the turn of the twentieth century, Srinivasa Ramanujan is a struggling and indigent citizen in the city of Madras in India working at menial jobs at the edge of poverty. While performing his menial labor, his employers notice that he seems to have exceptional skills in mathematics and they begin to make use of him for rudimentary accounting tasks. It becomes equally clear to his employers, who are college-educated, that Ramanujan's mathematical insights exceed the simple accounting tasks they are assigning to him and soon they encourage him to make his personal writings in mathematics available to the general public and to start to contact professors of mathematics at universities by writing to them. One such letter is sent to G.H. Hardy, a famous mathematician at University of Cambridge, who begins to take a special interest in Ramanujan.[9]

Hardy soon invites Ramanujan to Cambridge to test his mettle as a potential theoretical mathematician. Ramanujan is overwhelmed by the opportunity and decides to pursue Hardy's offer, even though this means he must leave his wife Janaki for an extended period. He parts lovingly with Janaki and promises to keep up his correspondence with her.

Upon arrival at Cambridge, Ramanujan encounters various forms of racial prejudice and finds his adjustment to life in England more difficult than expected. Hardy, though much impressed by Ramanujan's abilities, remains concerned about Ramanujan's ability to communicate effectively due to his lack of experience in writing proofs, but with perseverance, he manages to get Ramanujan published in a major journal.[10] In the meantime, Ramanujan is diagnosed with tuberculosis and his frequent letters home to his wife remain unanswered after many months. Hardy continues to see much more promise in Ramanujan. However, he remains unaware of the personal difficulties his student is having with his housing and with his lack of contact with his family back home in India. Ramanujan's health worsens while he continues delving into deeper and more profound research interests in mathematics under the guidance of Hardy and others at Cambridge.

Janaki, after much elapsed time, wonders why she has not heard from Ramanujan and eventually discovers that his mother has been intercepting his letters, and withholding hers to him. Hardy makes special efforts to get Ramanujan's now recognizably exceptional mathematical skills accepted by the university, by nominating Ramanujan for a fellowship of Trinity College. At first, Hardy fails for reasons related to college politics and racial prejudice. By gaining the support of key members of the college, Hardy again successfully nominates Ramanujan as a Fellow of the Royal Society, thereby forcing his acceptance as a fellow of Trinity. Ramanujan is eventually reunited with his family in India, though his declining health, exacerbated by poor housing and harsh winter weather in England, ultimately takes its toll and leads to his death aged 32, soon after his recognition as a mathematician of international merit and importance.


While Irons is more than 40 years Patel's senior, the real Hardy was only 10 years older than Ramanujan.


Tamil actor R. Madhavan was initially selected to portray the lead role in the film after agreeing terms during January 2012, but the makers eventually decided they wanted an international actor to play Ramanujan.[12]


Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 63% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 131 reviews with an average score of 6.2/10. The critics' consensus reads: "The Man Who Knew Infinity might be a tad too conventional to truly do its subject justice, but Dev Patel (Srinivasa Ramanujan) and Jeremy Irons (G.H. Hardy) elevate the end result beyond mere biopic formula."[13] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 56 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14]

After the film's world premiere, Allan Hunter in Screen Daily found the film to be "a well-heeled, sincere production following the memories of Ramanujan's English mentor and friend ... The film tells such a good story that it is hard to resist. The old-fashioned virtues of a well-told tale and a particularly fine performance from Jeremy Irons should endear the film to that supposedly under-served older demographic who like to turn out for a weekday matinee ... Mathematics plays a key role in the story, but in a way that is entirely accessible, allowing the viewer to comprehend the advances that Ramanujan made and why his legacy remains so important almost a century after his death."[15] Deborah Young in The Hollywood Reporter found the film to be a "respectable but all too conventional biopic".[16]

Mathematicians Ken Ono and Manjul Bhargava collaborated on the film, which has been praised by mathematicians and scientists for its accurate mathematics and authentic portrayal of mathematicians. George E. Andrews, former President of the American Mathematical Society, praised the film for its moving portrayal of the deep relationship between Ramanujan and Hardy.[17] The London Mathematical Society proclaimed that the film "outshines Good Will Hunting in almost every way".[18] Reviewing the film for Nature, Andrew Robinson wrote that "the film took more than ten years to create. It is worth the wait."[19]


Mister Smith Entertainment handled international sales of the film.[20] Warner Bros. released the film in the United Kingdom on 8 April 2016. IFC Films released it in the U.S. on 29 April 2016.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity – PowerGrind". The Wrap. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  2. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Dev Patel's 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' Moves to Production After 8 Years in Development". Variety. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  4. ^ Matt Brennan (14 October 2015). "IFC Films Acquires Math Genius Biopic 'The Man Who Knew Infinity,' with Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel". Indiewire / Thompson on Hollywood!. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  5. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity [programme note]". TIFF.net. Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  6. ^ Zack Sharf (25 August 2015). "'The Man Who Knew Infinity' Selected as Zurich Film Festival Opening Night Film". Indiewire. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  7. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity". SGIFF. 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  8. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity". DIFF. 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  9. ^ Webster, Andy (28 April 2016). "Review: 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' Gives a Mathematical Genius His Due". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  10. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity is a by the numbers biopic – review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  11. ^ Joseph, Raveena (28 July 2016). "Tales from a journeyman". The Hindu.
  12. ^ Warrier, Shobha (24 January 2012). "Madhavan as Ramanujan, the Mathematical genius". Rediff. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  13. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  14. ^ "The Man Who Knew Infinity". Metacritic. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  15. ^ Allan Hunter (15 September 2015). "'The Man Who Knew Infinity': Review". Screen Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  16. ^ Deborah Young (14 September 2015). "'The Man Who Knew Infinity': TIFF Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 February 2016. Brown's screenplay brings math into the dialogue often and without embarrassment.
  17. ^ George Andrews (February 2016). "Film Review: 'The Man Who Knew Infinity'" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society.
  18. ^ Armando Martino and David Singerman (March 2016). "The Man Who Knew Infinity: film review" (PDF). London Mathematical Society Newsletter.
  19. ^ Andrew Robinson (31 March 2016). "Film: In search of Ramanujan". Nature. 531 (7596): 576–577. Bibcode:2016Natur.531..576R. doi:10.1038/531576a.
  20. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (10 September 2015). "'The Man Who Knew Infinity' Clip: Toronto Film About Math Genius Ramanujan".
  21. ^ Matt Brennan (14 October 2015). "IFC Films Acquires Math Genius Biopic 'The Man Who Knew Infinity,' with Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel". Indiewire / Thompson on Hollywood!. Retrieved 24 February 2016.

External links[edit]