From Math to drama, Ramanujan’s life takes centre stage with Prof Alladi


Mathematician Ramajuman’s work inspired productions in the form of opera, play, films and documentaries, each with their point of view said Prof Krishnaswami Alladi, Department of Mathematics, University of Florida. In a lecture titled "Stage productions on Ramanujan a comparison”, held at MSSRF on the occasion of the 130 birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan on December 18, 2017. He spoke of the connections that Ramanujan made between completely different fields and analyzed how each of these creative productions had depicted his life and work.

 Prof Krishnaswami Alladi first spoke about  the “Opera RamanjuamPartition” that premiered in Europe in April 1998. Although the influence of Godess Namgiri on Ramanujan is well described, the opera placed ‘too little emphasis' on the joy that Ramanujan felt while he made his discoveries.

In the play titled “Partition”, which had come out in 2003, there is a scene that portrays the attempted suicide of Ramanujan falling under a train while he is at England. He is subsequently arrested by a Scottish policeman. However, his associate Dr GH Hardy, comes to Ramanujan’s rescue saying Ramanujan he is a member of the Royal Mathematical Society’. However, at the time of the suicide, Ramanujan was not yet a member of the Royal but going to be one.

Next, while the movie " the man who knew infinity" portrays that Ramanujan was solely responsible for establishing  the formula of partitions, in reality, Hardy played a crucial role in proving the formula. The movie, is based on Robert Kanigel's book ‘The man who knew infinity’, which according to Prof Alladi Krishnaswami is the most accurate and compelling version of Ramanujan’s life. A positive idea the film brings out is the beauty of mathematics. However, the movie portrayed the British as being dismissive of Indians, which was not the case. The famous taxi number incident time is also shown differently in the film. Overall, Ramanujan’s mathematics is so startling, that it invokes both awe and admiration, the world over. Every number was a friend of Ramanujan, said Prof Alladi.

Prof Swaminathan praising Prof Alladi said that his greatest contribution to mathematics was to instill a love for this subject in his students. Due to his annual visitevery December, it becomes the month of music and mathematics, he said.