|Dev Patel and Ken Ono|
This is based on the story of the great Indian Mathematician Ramanujan (played by Dev Patel) and his collaboration with Hardy (Jeremy Irons). Beautifully acted by both of them, and a strong supporting cast, including Stephen Fry as Sir Francis Spring, Toby Jones as Littlewood and Kevin McNally as Major MacMahon.
Of course if one is a mathematician, a former Trinity Maths Scholar and the son of an FRS one is likely to care more deeply about the story than the aveage filmgoer but I do hope it reaches a wide audience because it is both good and beautiful. It does to some extent over-play the racism of the time: as Venki Ramakrishnan pointed out in reality Ramanujan lodged initially with a Cambridge academics and his wife, and the wife even bought a vegetarian cookbook (hard to obtain in 1912) to learn to cook for him.
It also doesn't (quite understandably) give enough credit to Sir Francis Spring who apparently lobbied quite hard for official government support for Ramanujan's researches - though he is shown as being very sympathetic to his work.
|Venki Ramakrishnan at the RS|
In addition to meeting Venki I met Ken Ono who was one of the mathematical consultants on the film, and in whose life Ramanujan has played a very important part. His book In search of Ramanujan is about to be published and should be fascinating. He is concerend about the difficulty in the US of developing scientists and mathematicians who can find deep insights was very pleased to learn about the LMB and its emphasis on long term research. Venki said it was the reason he came to the UK for a 40% pay cut because they would allow him to do this long term work - tackling a problem that a well-funded team in Germany had failed to crack and which he was sure the NIH would therefore refuse to fund. Another triumph for the LMB and the UK system at its best.