On the one hand there are those who lament the fact that a book has once again gone the movie route. Sanjay Santhanam, a voracious reader of anything fiction, who heads the sales and marketing function in a financial services company, feels, “Why do books HAVE to be made into movies? Can’t we just let them be? A book has so many little details, that the movie cannot encompass. Besides, what’s the fun if you already know the story? The movie will work best for those who haven’t read the book, and may not know what to expect. The upside is that the movie may actually drive these people to read the book after watching it!”
On the other hand, there are those who’re looking forward to the movie. Anitha Pottamkulam, who runs a travel consultancy considered the book a great piece of fiction and says, “It will be a good time-pass film. It has all the elements of one already.”
Nandan Balsavar is an architect and director of an organisation that specialises in human resettlement. His work in the area of town planning includes studying symbology, and it was this aspect that drew him to the book initially. He says, “I would have to read the book again, to really comment on this. However, I think if made well, the movie should be good. This movie will not only draw people who have already read the book, but also introduce the concepts to a whole new movie-watching audience who have not yet read the book.”
The choice of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon has caused quite a stir, with diverse reactions. Anitha chips in “Tom Hanks is very Middle American. He just doesn’t have it in him to be dashing enough to play Robert Langdon. Look at the rest of the cast – it’s perfect! They’ve done the best thing by casting French actors as Sophie Neveu and Bezu Fache. Why bring Tom Hanks into this equation?”
Tom Hanks, who was recently seen as Viktor Navorski in ‘The Terminal’, has worked on a gamut of unusual roles. From a boy who becomes ‘Big’ overnight, to putting the sleepless in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’. From the AIDS infected Andrew Beckett of ‘Philadelphia’ to the memorable ‘Forrest Gump’. One could go on…What remains to be seen is if he’ll manage to pull off Robert Langdon.
Sudha Hariharan, a housewife, considers Tom Hanks ideal for the role. “Tom Hanks looks erudite enough to carry it off. If we don’t have a screen precedent of what Robert Langdon looks like, why write off Tom Hanks?”
French actress, Audrey Tautou will play Sophie Neveu. Jean Reno will play Inspector Bezu Fache. He played an inspector earlier, hot on the trail of Kevin Kline in ‘The French Kiss’. He’s also acted in ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Godzilla’ – he’s in the new Pink Panther movie too!
Ian McKellen will play Sir Leigh Teabing. He is better known as the actor who played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series and Eric Lensherr/Magneto in X-Men. Alfred Molina will play Bishop Aringarosa. He played Comte De Reynaud in ‘Chocolat’, Diego Rivera in ‘Frida’ and more recently, Doc Ock/Dr. Otto Octavius in ‘Spiderman II’. Paul Bettany of ‘Wimbledon’ and ‘Master & Commander’ is rumoured to play Silas. He also played Charles in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and Geoffrey Chaucer in ‘A Knight’s Tale’.
Ron Howard does the honours as director. He has earlier directed films as diverse as ‘Splash’, ‘Cocoon’, ‘Parenthood’, ‘Apollo 13’, ‘Ransom’, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and ‘A Beautiful Mind’.
We asked some of our interviewees, “If it wasn’t Tom Hanks, who would it be?” The unanimous decision was a 20-years younger Harrison Ford! Some felt that Robert Langdon’s character was quite similar to Indiana Jones, minus some of the swashbuckling adventures. However, we can only wait until next year to see how good a Robert Landon, Tom Hanks makes.
The worldwide release of ‘The Da Vinci Code’, has been set to May 19, 2006.
(edited version published on June 3, 2005 in Madras Plus, the city features supplement of The Economic Times, Chennai. Pic as published in magazine)