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Of course Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes celebrates the crackling chemistry between its two male protagonists. It has a petulant Holmes dismissing Watson’s decision to move out of 221 B Baker Street to make a home with his fiancé.

Of course Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes celebrates the crackling chemistry between its two male protagonists. It has a petulant Holmes dismissing Watson’s decision to move out of 221 B Baker Street to make a home with his fiancé. It has an exasperated Watson trying to reason with Holmes,who has decided that he doesn’t approve of the match. They stare intently into each other’s eyes and make it very clear to the audience thatbehind the flakey demeanour lies genuine feelings. But why exactly is that a surprise? Why does the media insist on calling this Guy Ritchie film a bromance (a new-age term for a romantic relationship between heterosexual men)?

Any admirer of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books will tell you that he never shied away from hinting at that the leading men of his celebrated franchise were involved in what can be interpreted as masochistic (but entirely platonic) relationship. In his stories he has repeatedly defined Holmes as a person with a “cold,but admirably balanced mind”. Holmes never spoke of softer passions,save with a “gibe or a sneer”,he loathed every form of society but when it came to Watson,he made an exception. Even after they stopped sharing their flat at 221 B,Baker Street,Holmes was always glad to receive his company and “eagerly looked forward to his visits”.

Ritchie,however,chooses to take things a step further. He exploresthe relationship in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. Robert Downey Jr (who plays Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson),as the promos establish,are unlike any other Holmes and Watson you have seen on screen before. Ritchie’s Holmes is a robust,sinewy,aggressive dude who packs in a mean punch or two (and also spends a considerable amount of screen time,bare-chested). This depiction is in direct contrast to the Holmes of the yore—a wiry,pale man who hardly ever needed to grease his elbow. The bumbling,stocky Watson of the BBC series,was more of a comic relief than an able companion. But the casting of a pin-up icon like Jude Law as Watson,was most definitely coloured with some directorial motive. In Ritchie’s film Holmes hardly bumbles. On the contrary,he manages to rescue Holmes out of a sticky situation more than once. He also manages to look amazingly dapper in a three-piece suit (though he never takes his shirt off) and pouts every time Holmes disappoints him.

The point is,Ritchie,uses both Holmes and Law as symbols of virility. They are hot-blooded young men (one of whom alternates between cocaine and ambition,of course) who don’t make any bones about surrendering to their passions. With so much testosterone flying about,there is bound to be chemistry. Bromance did you say? Whatever.

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First published on: 14-01-2010 at 02:34:52 am
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