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Shakuntala Devi’s ‘The World of Homosexuals’: A Brave Voice Ahead of Its Time

The World of Homosexuality by Shakuntala Devi_derje

Shakuntala Devi, who is popularly known as “Human-Computer”, was greatly known for her power of calculating complex mathematics in a few seconds. Besides being a genius in mathematics, Shakuntala Devi also wrote a number of books that include novels, mathematics, puzzles, and astrology.

It is absolutely fine to have a great personality with so many talents until there comes a big revolution about one of her books that she wrote in 1977. As the year says, the era was the prevailing emergency period that started in 1975. Where the political and social conditions were still heated up, Shakuntala Devi comes up with her book named “The World of Homosexuals”.

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What Is The Book About?

The World of Homosexuals – Shakuntala Devi Book_derje
The World of Homosexuals – Shakuntala Devi Book

As the name suggests, in her “The World of Homosexuals“, she clearly talks about homosexuality and rights. This had been done in an era where the concept of normal sexuality was very hideous and was considered to be taboo to talk about (although it still is taboo for a few). She brings forth the right for homosexual men to have the right to live a normal life without being criticized. Unfortunately, she herself got many criticisms for the same.

Why This Came Up Suddenly? Vidya Balan’s Movie!

Vidya Balan and Jishu Sengupta as Shakuntala Devi and her Husband Paritosh Banerjee_derje
Vidya Balan and Jishu Sengupta as Shakuntala Devi and her Husband Paritosh Banerjee

It is a question of fact that after so many years, why suddenly the book received so much importance? It is because of the biopic that is streaming on Amazon Prime, called Shakuntala Devi, by Anu Menon. In the biopic, Shakuntala Devi (Vidya Balan) was shown to have talked about homosexuality openly. She was asked in a function how she could write about homosexuality without being homosexual herself. There she replied, “Well, I haven’t killed anyone either but I’ve written a book called Perfect Murder. Actually, I got interested in homosexuality because my ex-husband was a homosexual.”

The role of her husband, Paritosh Banerjee has been played by Jishu Sengupta.

She also further added that she absolutely supports her husband as it is his choice. Although this was a fake message that she had revealed, this made her daughter Anupama Banerjee (Sanya Malhotra) uncomfortable and she rushed out of the place. Later she explains how she needed to make up the story to sell the book. This might be triggering for queer people because without living experience sensitivity cannot be falsely imposed. One can talk for or against her statement but no one can deny the iconic aura that presented with.

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The Book and Society

Shakuntala Devi's Progressive View_derje
Shakuntala Devi’s Progressive View

Although the book has never been brushed aside, it was also never allowed to be in the limelight, which is another attempt of society to put down the open and free-minded conversation about homosexuality. She talks that the only qualification she has to write the book is that she is a human being.

Well, now when homosexuality is legally accepted, society still finds it hard to digest the fact that two men or two women can share homosexual interests and live happily ever after like the fairy tales. But our fairy tales taught us about the love stories between the prince and the princess. This has been rooted deeply in our mind from childhood that we tend to discard any other forms of sexuality and consider that only heterosexuality is normal.

Therefore, it is high time how we need to appreciate the great icon that dared to come up with her views on a taboo that was almost like a revolution. She has lived her life on her own and never allowed the influential statements from others and society to change the way she looked at her life. This is why the book became once more a great point to talk about even after so many days of its publication.

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I hope the question of who is Shakuntala has been answered and do read her book ‘The World of Homosexuals.

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