The Da Vinci Code (Movie) – A Review

[Assumes that reader has read the book]

Rating: 3.5 stars

Let me begin by saying, the movie simply doesn’t come close to the book, a good movie nevertheless. And that the two of the most amusing parts of the movie are the disclaimers shown at the beginning and the end.

Jokes apart, This was the movie which boasted of double Oscar winner Tom Hanks as a cast member and double Oscar winner Ron Howard as Director. Tom Hanks doesn’t fit into the role of a learned professor, esp. with the long hair. Clearly, the role belonged to Harrison Ford, George Clooney, or Nicholas Cage. The movie follows the outline of the the book quite closely with certain details missed. For those Indian audience who haven’t read the book, the French accent might put a considerable strain on the ears to grasp the dialogues. The movie, being set in the dark, might make you uneasy at times.

The book explores the past of Sophie for quite a few pages. The fact that Sophie was one who should have been cracking anagrams, given her experience in the past, and Langdon had to play a significant role only later formed the solid reason for Langdon to stick to Sophie in her trail. The movie hardly uncovers the past of Sophie which i thought was pretty important. Description of Architecture is unmatched in the book which no movie can ever come close to. The movie has omitted the first cryptex which opens with *****. In my opinion, the this could have easily been included in the movie without consuming much time. The details of pagan rituals and practices have also been overlooked. Perhaps, a three hour movie instead of a two and a half hour one would have sufficed for a reasonably comprehensive coverage of the book. The topic on golden ratio wasn’t even brought up in the conversation. The book , at least for me, aroused interest in knowing history. To quite an extent, it made Langdon look ‘cool’ with all the knowledge he had and with his interpretation of symbols. The movie fails to do so (but that’s not what a movie is for anyway).

Silas’ role was portrayed to perfection. The zeal in him was well displayed by Paul Bettany. Some of the scenes involving him bring you to the edge of the seats. The movie is fast paced, Just right to keep the attention of the viewers for 150 minutes. Thought the movie doesn’t give enough time to comprehend the difficulty of the clues and the lateral thinking involved in solving it, it does provide a good weekend entertainment value. Teibing’s assertion about Jesus Christ’s life is also worth a mention. Thankfully, the movies doesn’t get into the romance between Sophie and Langdon. It has also carefully avoided the Hindi movie ending of the book and made it a lot less sentimental.

Bottom line: It is worth a movie ticket. It is watchable only once (if one has read the book or not).

Do comment if you have anything else to say.

Reservation Issue

Over past two weeks, protests against reservation being given to OBCs has intensified drastically. In my earlier post (on reservation), i wasn’t too ‘keen’ on talking about politics involved in the whole issue. This post will reflect the hypocrisy of MPs in our country. To begin with, out politicians claim that the reservation is being ‘awarded’ to OBCs for their upliftment. They believe that OBCs are under-represented in higher educational institutes in our country. They have absolutely no statistics to prove that though. Why is it that MPs are against reservation in parliament? Quite clearly, OBCs are underrepresented there too. I was wondering why this point was raised during any debate for over a week now. I was happy to find one banner echoing this point couple of day earlier in TOI. The arguments in favour of reservation hold good even in this case. It goes without saying that when MPs themselves are at the receiving end, no arguments, however strong, fall on deaf ears. They are the same MPs who vehemently opposed women’s reservation in parliament. It has not even been allowed to be tabled in parliament till now. Before even a speech is made, politicians walk out of the house with all the rage in the world. Condition of women, no doubt, is worse then SC/STs or OBCs. Why aren’t the concerned politicians ignorant in tackling that issue before?
[This does not mean i support reservation for OBCs or women in parliament.]

One of the ridiculous argument made in favour of the reservation is that our education system fails to identify the real merit, so anti-reservation activists’ claim of merit being diluted in a fallacy. The simple answer is to change the education system. Reservation will do no good. One of the bloggers goes on to belittle IITians saying

Our exams often generate and encourage stupidity and push forward the least talented of the lot. I am not an IIT student, and will not pretend to know much about the CAT since I didn’t crack it, but it is rather interesting that almost none of our wonderful IIT-ians (for whom such pitted battled are being fought) have made any earth-shattering discoveries or inventions. “

It cant be helped when one chooses to remain oblivious to science and technology development in the words. For the starters, the founder of Sun Microsystems was an IITian, Vinod Khosla, which developed java. Many of the students have research publications before they complete engineering. To really make a progress in Science and Technology, we need money. Indian government is apathetic towards research, so most of the IITians turn to USA for research. Indian (not just IITian) contribution to science and engineering has been very significant. The fact that Indian research institute aren’t doing well can be attributed to poverty and not the lack of brains. With reservation around, more brains are being denied the much deserved opportunity.

Both Kamal Nath and Arjun Singh are clueless as to the “plight” of OBCs in the country. In the interview with Karan Thapar, their immature rhetoric in dealing with questions fired at them makes me angry with the government for their choice of such irresponsible ministers. A year ago, i was so proud to be in country where both prime minister and president have a PhD to their name, but the government as single body gets the whole country down. NSSO’s figures indicate that OBCs are getting their share of the cake. Why, then, is the whole issue of reservation bring brought up? Our Prime Minister hasn’t even taken a stand on reservation yet. It is not the so called dignified silence, but silence of defenseless politician.

Reservation will also affect the OBCs themselves in a negative way. Students will be discriminated against. Complacency will creep in. To give you an example, when attendance is not taken in a class, be in 5 point someone or 9 point someone, many students bunk. It a natural tendency to do so. When a student knows that, by caste, he will be admitted to a premier institution, his preparation will fall short. The year I got through JEE, the 9th ranker in reserved category was 1900th rank in general category. Even after sixty years, if the gap has not been bridged, reservation is not the way to go.

Some protesters ask, “what more do upper caste want? They have 50.5% seats for 15% population?” No, those 50.5% seats are not reserved for us. Its up for grabs for every one including SC/STs and OBCs. In 2003 , rank 1(SC/ST) (less than 10 in GE) in JEE chose a seat in General Merit. He was hailed. I don’t see why? All he did was snatch deserving candidates’ seats. It’s not just one seat. If he had chosen Branch A, one person would have had to settle for branch B, some other person for branch C and so on.

The government is simply not addressing the issue of extending primary education to all. (which is a fundamental right btw). Even reservation in private sector is on the cards. If reservation is required at every stage, a question begs to be asked, “if reservation is needed at every stage, doesn’t that mean they are just not good enough?”

Songs from the Past

I consider myself very fortunate to be at a place where music flows unlimited on the LAN. Sometimes the best part of the day is when I get back to my room and listen to endless music. Over last fifty years, several legends have left a lasting impression with their music. I have often asked myself, “Which is my favorite song”. Answer to that has not been just one song. When others ask me this, I usually reply, “with or without you”, by U2. The fact is that a whole lot of songs spring in my head when I think of great songs or best songs ever written.

In the movie Ray, a biography of Ray Charles, he talks of country music as best form of music because of the stories they tell. True indeed! The ballads they churn out are mesmerizing to say the least. The song “The Gambler”, by Kenny Rogers, is easily one of my favorite country ballads. This song brings out the advice from a gambler.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

What’s intriguing about the song is that the advice is given by a relatively disrespected character in the society and yet it makes all the sense in the world.

Yet another country ballad I love listening to is “Traveling Soldier”, by Dixie Chicks. It’s a simple song about a soldier who befriends a girl so that he could write letters from Vietnam. The need for a friend when you are lonely is powerfully delivered. “You are my best friend”, by Don Williams, reminds you what friendship really is with some timeless metaphors.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry you’re my shelter from troubled winds
you’re my anchor in life’s ocean but most of all you’re my best friend

Turning over to rock music, the song that I find to take me to a different world altogether is “Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan. Wiki tells me

There are many theories about the meaning of the song. One interpretation is that the song allusively recounts Dylan’s early experiences with LSD, and this is supported by the prominent use of the word “trip” in the first line of the second verse.

Every time I listen to this song, I am in a completely different world. Knowing me, I am pretty sure I will never try LSD. I am guessing this song will be the best vicarious experience of LSD I will ever have. I particularly adore this stanza from the song

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

When speaking of rock, the psychedelic Pink Floyd can’t be left behind. Among so many gems they have produced, the best one, in my opinion, is “learning to fly”. This song best describes how it feels like to fly:

There’s no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, A state of bliss

“Free to decide” by Cranberries is one of my all time favourite songs. There are two groups of which I like every song that I have heard, Cranberries is one of them. The other is U2. Coincidentally both the groups are Irish. The rebellious “Sunday, bloody Sunday” By U2 is the song that moves by senses. This anti-war song is a fitting tribute to the victims of Bloody Sunday in Ireland on 30th Jan., 1972. **14 people were killed (including 6 minors) and 13 others wounded by British paratroopers after a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march in the Bogside area of the city of Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Many witnesses, including bystanders and journalists, claim that those shot at were all unarmed.

**quoted from wiki

Tears in heaven” by Eric Clapton was written by Eric Clapton and dedicated to his son, Conor Clapton, who died a 4 year old by falling off from the 54th floor. Ever since I got to know this, the song has always given me the blues. Beautifully written song…..

The romantic song “Top of the world”, by Carpenters scores high on my best pop music ratings. The song is made all the more romantic because of the infatuating voice of Karen Carpenter. I cannot find a word better to describe her sweet voice. It’s a real pity that the world lost Karen to Anorexia Nervosa when she was in her 30s.

One of my favorite bands, Bee gees’ “stayin’ alive” is a disco classic. I don’t find anything great in the lyrics though. It just speaks about ‘staying alive’ in the busy, turbulent world that we have created. What I love about the song is its pulsating tune that can get you on your toes anytime. “The winner takes it all” by Abba is a poignant song on break-up. Arguably, it is one of their best works.

Bridge over troubled water” by Simon and Garfunkel is another song interpreted as a song on pleasures of using drug. The silver girl in the song, some believe, refers to the needle used to inject drugs. Others believe the song is about friendship and how friends lay themselves down like a bridge over troubled water. Paul Simon clarified about the silver girl in the song saying, “My girlfriend at the time was particularly saddened upon finding a few grey hairs in her brush, lamenting that she was getting older. I wrote that lyric as a tribute and inside joke to her. I don’t know how the heroin connection rumor got started. The song is basically about friendship.” It’s ironical that this song on friendship led to their break-up owing to disagreement on who should sing the song.

Radio ga ga” by Queen is a song on the advent of television and its role in bringing the radio down. Other songs in my all time favorite list includes “stairway to heaven” by Led Zep, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond, “Riders on the storm” by Doors, “Sweet Surrender” by Bread, “Thick as a Brick” by Jethro Tull, “Reelin’ in the years” by Steely Dan and many more.

If anyone hasn’t heard any of the songs above, he is missing out on lot of entertainment. Please do comment on your favorite songs and who do you think has the best voice. Among male artists, in my opinion, Freddie Mercury takes a clear pole position and infatuating voice of Karen Carpenter among the female artists. My favorite bands are U2 and Bee Gees. Lemme know yours.