I was given a copy (I choose to call it that now, but way back, it was the thickest book I had ever held) of Sherlock Holmes – A study in Scarlet, during my 8th standard Summer vacations. “Why don’t you do something useful?”, my grandma asked. I was the black sheep in the big tambrahm (Tamil –Brahmin, for the uninitiated) family who flunked in mathematics and did not touch books until he was 13!!
The book was supposed to be my birthday present. My appa, amma and uncle looked at me expectedly, looking for a trace of delight on my face. I beamed with joy(it was fake, of course). The little bird is finally taking flight, my dad would have thought. All I had in mind was cricket and meeting the girl next door at 5 in the evening.
The birthday went, my friend, Kapil, went away to Bombay for vacations and I learnt that the girl next door had a crush on some weirdo from the next compound ( well, that’s what I thought of him then).
I was not left with too many choices. So with a heavy heart, I pulled out my birthday present from the darkest corner of my cupboard. Little did I know that this would suck me into a vortex of literature that would hold me captive forever!
Hold on, this is not about my shenanigans as a kid or my love for books. This is about the greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, one has ever read about, probably [ Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s brother) and Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie’s greatest creation) come a close second & third].
At 13, I idolized Sherlock Holmes. He was a hero, though he was a miserable, irresponsible drug addict, who would insult his best friend, experiment on his dog and was a brawler who practiced martial arts.
These are traits that a teenybopper would love. But what was it that made him so awesome? Irresistible? Great?
With his study of Science at university, keen mind and powers of observation, Holmes employed a process of deductive reasoning in his work, with great success. He went about his work with amazing callousness, yet “observed” things and events, most others would dismiss as trivial.
He could walk away from the gravest of situations by turning on his charm (as per his whims and fancies). The detective with the deerstalker cap could solve cases with such ease, constantly embarrassing the London police department.
As time passed, I moved on from Arthur Conan Doyle to John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer, Ken Follet & Lee Child and characters like Kane & Abel, Jack Reacher etc made me wade through my troubled existence in School & college. Had I forgotten Sherlock Holmes? No , I had not, but fascination for the Holmes kind of died with age.
At this point, you may wonder (rightfully), why am I writing this? Well, it is because a week from now, on the 29th of Dec, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes – Games of shadows makes it to the large screens in India. Memories from the novels / short stories and the hugely successful 2009 movie came flooding back.
Do Guy Ritchie and Sherlock Holmes fit? Why, it’s elementary, (as the great man would himself say) dear friends. History tells us that great literature may not necessarily translate into great cinema, but I tell you that great literature in the right hands, makes for some awesome experience.
In Guy Ritchie’s movie, Holmes is an avid boxer, a martial artist, a dabbler in many sciences, and a master of disguise. Most importantly, he is an expert in logic and deduction. His version in more swashbuckling, more thrilling and more edgy than the stories / novels but that does not make it any less faithful to the original. Ritchie's directorial style also comes through, from the dark, grimy Victorian- London production values to the violent boxing and martial arts matches.
Robert Downey Jr. is right at home in the role of the infamous detective. Swapping out futuristic armor for a pipe and fiddle, he plays another character with the wit and confidence of his Tony Stark persona in 'Iron Man.' He brings quick-wit, cunning, and a scruffy toughness to a role long seen as stuffy and dry. He is ably supported by Jude Law. He brings in distinguished charm that, at times, spills over into testy aggressiveness. Both toss off the one-liners with ease. They take top honors, arguing like an old married couple while deep down knowing that they'd be lost without each other.
The direction is great, the locations are likewise smart, the costumes are admirable, and the effects are gritty, proving to be another benefit of having a director like Ritchie at helm. The musical score is supplemental to the frantic convolutions of the film's earlier scenes, providing a spirited tune that rides the energy of fiddling and poses as anything but generic.
With so many positives, a visit to the theatres on 29th to witness the sequel on large screen becomes a must.
It will be interesting to be wowed by action in Victorian era just a week after Ethan Hunt pulled off the Burj Khalifa stunt. Also the fact that Holmes will be pitted against his most feared nemesis, Prof. Moriarty makes this movie an interesting prospect.
Here is hoping to see off 2011 on a high.
Over to you guys………