May 18, 2006

Manner of evil

Question: Is there a prominent novel from the last couple of years that is more of a mediocrity than Da Vinci Code is? I mean, the thing is filled with improbable escapes and chases, it's overrun with the disease of finding significance in everything, the writing is ordinary at best. Worst of all, everything in the novel happens in less than a day. Late night murder to police arrival to fleeing through Paris to visit to a farm (? I can't be bothered to find out) to run for airstrip to flight to London to wandering through various London churches, and I'm sure I've missed enough too -- all accomplished in under 24 hours? Come on!

What a waste of time, this book.

Every now and then some celebrity tells some paper (s)he is reading this bland concoction, and I can't help feeling sorry. Please give it up, I feel like shouting. Read Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire instead, or John McEnroe's Serious!

But of course, I don't shout. Nobody to listen, being the first reason.

Yet this is the work some Christians are greatly upset about, or let me give the emotion its trendy moniker -- their religious sentiments are hurt. (Well, by the film based on the book, though I wonder why it took the film, not the 60-million seller book). This is what has prompted one Nicholas Almeida to offer a Rs 1.1 million bounty on Dan Brown.

As earlier with the film of Kazantzakis's Last Temptation of Christ, as with the film of that superb musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, it is easy to claim offence and decide that everyone else must, perforce, feel it too. Easy to offer bounties. Of course, mediocrity or not, there's such a thing as freedom of expression. Though that clearly means little to Almeida. Because while all that is easy, it's actually harder to understand what freedom of expression truly means.

I know little about Christianity. But when I see behaviour like this, I know these guys, Christians though they claim to be, know even less about it. So for people who think they've got the hotline to JC, here's just one line from the Bible (Matthew 5, 11):
    Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Think about it, you Nicholases.

***

Never fear: this bout of injured religious sentiments gets added to the informal list I began compiling at Four times injured.

6 comments:

Neela said...

Yes, isn't it absolutely silly? I am officially offering a bounty for Mr. Almeida - I can't allow such foolishness to survive in decent society.

But I must add that I thoroughly enjoyed the book for the few hours it took me to read it (and I read it all in one sitting - a sure sign of an entertaining novel). Come now, Dilip, you who are usually so sensible and without pretensions and who enjoys Hindi film music, YOU didn't like the book? I mean its like imposing a standard of art on Bunty aur Babli or a Mithun movie. The book was complete pulp but were there pretensions to anything else? At least boredom is not a word I would associate with the Davinci code. Then again, I devoured Harold Robbins and Robert Ludlum in my youth, so what to say, we are like this only.

And of course, I admire the nerve of someone like Dan Brown. Stringing together all sorts of improbable but true stuff and weaving this sort of "you almost can believe its real" bestseller while making people feel intelligent on reading it and yet making it a fast airplane ride read - that takes some skill don't you think?

n!

Nikhil said...

Neela
Agree with you. For all of us who have seen and enjoyed DDLJ and KKHH, Dan Browns novel is entertaining. Yes - even I read Ludlum. Strange how Nicholas woke up after 2 years to hear about this novel and he passes a fatwa not on Ron Howard who has made this movie but on Dan Brown who wrote this 2 years back. I am alarmed at literacy in the country. People are really reading less and watching more of TV and movies.
If anything needs to be banned, I think it is Ekta Kapoor's serials.
I am really concerned about the dumbing down going on

Umesh Patil said...

This episode demonstrates that wrong headed people are there in all religions, not just in Islam or Hindu.

But it is not only for less literate people who are concerned about this movie - the top notch Wall Street Journalist Peggy Noonan (the Diva of Conservative Thinking...) also finds the movie in bad taste. She chastises Tom Hanks and Ron Howard (http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110008389) for this movie.

But Hollywood must be having the last laugh – more the controversy about the movie, more will they make money. And Hollywood needs some block busters since lately their business has been down…..

Anonymous said...

>>top notch Wall Street Journalist Peggy Noonan ..

Hope she wasn't plagiarising anyone this time while commenting.

Dilip, Bestseller Da Vinci code was mediocore because story starts and ends in a day!!! Compare it to your Narmada book where the real issues dragged for over a decade and there still no buyers of the book! Other than some illiterate villagers who were given some copies by your NGO and now those villagers I believe were using it to compensate for the water shortage ( a la Dances with Wolves)

Rejoice, your book beats Browns hands down (on mediocrity)

Umesh Patil said...

Well, I did not intend to write as a proof of wisdom of WSJ or Conservatives. Rather wanted to say how even so called intelligent people are falling to the trap of 'hurting religious sentiment'.

Anonymous said...

Dilip, this Anonymous dude is out to get you!

- Zap