The defining mother-daughter scene in Vidya Balan and Sanya Malhotra’s Shakuntala Devi

Starring Vidya Balan and Sanya Malhotra in leading roles, Shakuntala Devi is now available on Amazon Prime…

In Anu Menon’s #ShakuntalaDevi, there is a defining moment for the relationship between mother (Shakuntala, played by Vidya Balan) and daughter (Anu, played by Sanya Malhotra), which remains with me as the emotional highlight of the film. Hindi films have generally ignored toxic relationships between mother and daughter. They always tend to focus on problematic fathers and sons (Baghban, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham), while women mostly show kinship. But are relationships between mother-daughter always a fairy tale? Anu Menon questions just that.


Shakuntala Devi is an insecure mother. She often fears losing her daughter and hence makes her daughter travel with her wherever it is that she has to go. For the longest time, Anu doesn’t even go to school because Shakuntala fears losing her. That’s when Anu begins to dislike and even hate her mother. When in one scene, Anu asks Shakuntala why can’t she be a normal mother and why can’t they have a normal home, Devi has a moment of thought. She realises that in her greed of earning name and fame and in her pursuit of running away from home, she (a) forgot what home meant and (b) didn’t realise that for all these years she has been depriving her daughter of a home.

In the next scene, Menon shows that Devi has brought a home for herself and her daughter. Devi no longer wants Anu to be confused as to what is home, which hotel is home. She wants Anu to feel at home in her own home, and also spend time with her daughter.

Anu is born into legacy. Rather into a genius legacy, but what she searches for in life are the simple things and perhaps Devi failed to understand the same. This scene saw a change in her, and in their relationship as mother and daughter. But for how long can this genius live within the confines of domesticity?

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