Designed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is this pipe smoking detective in a trench coat and a deerstalker hat, popularly known as Sherlock Holmes. With his debut in “A Study in Scarlet” in the year 1887, it’s charm sustains till date, making for a delightful read and an inspiration for numerous adaptations in contemporary performed arts.
The character became increasingly popular with the series of short stories, beginning with “A Scandal in Bohemia”. There are a total of four novels and 56 short stories. Sherlock Holmes is supposedly the most famous fictional detective ever, and also holds a Guinness World Record for being the ‘most portrayed movie character in movies’.
In 2009, the film ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was released with Robert Downey Jr. playing the title role and Jude Law as Dr. Watson. A sequel to this movie, called ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’, was released in 2011. Stephen fry and Jared Harris joined Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Mycroft Holmes and Professor Moriarty respectively. This film loosely follows the short stories ‘The Final Problem’ and ‘The Empty House’.
In 2010, BBC released the television series based on the books by the name of ‘Sherlock’, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. The first season had three episodes, ‘a Study in Pink’, ‘The Blind Banker’ and ‘The Great Game’. The show went on to be really successful, and was renewed for more seasons, with the fourth season that ended recently.
So what is it that makes Sherlock Holmes famous even now?
Everyone loves a bit of adventure, and with Holmes and Watson, you have plenty. From puns, ciphers and cryptic messages to nail biting action. Be it chasing a potential murderer through the streets of London, or deciphering an ancient Chinese dialect, they have done it all! Sherlock’s razor sharp mind, quick wit and eccentric habits is complimented by Watson’s calm and composed demeanor. Together they make for an unlikely – yet an extremely efficient team.
Sherlock has a photographic memory, and he gets to know things about people just by looking at them and observing their body language. This leads to a lot of people believing that he can read people’s minds. It leaves the readers (or audience) in awe and his enemies (or sometimes even the police) in utter disgust. A sergeant goes on to say that Sherlock is a psychopath, to which Sherlock replies that he is “not a psychopath, but a high functioning sociopath”.
In the TV series, Sherlock is thought to be dead by the end of the second season but he returns in the third, with a bit of help from his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss, also a creator of the series). How he managed to fake his own death is revealed, and once again, the audience is left speechless.
Sherlock’s arch enemy James/Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott in the TV adaptation), is a recurring name, and in the books, Sherlock describes him as the ‘Napoleon of crime’. According to some sources, this character was originally created as a tool to kill Sherlock. However, that does not happen.
Above all, this is a story which revolves around crime and mystery, genres that have fascinated people since ancient times. With the plot slightly changed to suit modern times, and a brilliant star cast, the creators are bringing back Sherlock Holmes for those who do not want to read the novels, or those who might want to go through the experience again.
And once you’re in the fandom, before you know it, you’ll be hooked – or rather, SHERlocked.