My Tryst with Harry Potter
I am just back after watching the last movie in the Harry Potter series and I thought that I should write my ode while I am still dazed in its after-effect. After all, I went from being a staunch Harry Potter hater to an absolute Harry Potter lover. For me, it all began with the movies.
I was in class VIII when I first encountered the HP hysteria. We used to have a clay modelling event in our school House Competitions (about which I had blogged here). One of the Houses had created what I now know as the Hogwarts Castle along with the three protagonists. Till then, I had just read about the HP craze in newspapers, but that day I realised that the craze was real nearer home, too. I asked a friend to give me a summary, just to understand why it was so popular. She started about magic, witches, wizards, a boy and a villain and I promptly lost interest. By then, I had begun to read Sidney Sheldon and was looking forward to lay my hands on Jeffrey Archer and I did not want to start reading children’s book, again. I guess, I upped my nose at the mass hysteria surrounding the books. Little did I know that one day I ,myself would be a part of it.
Cut to 2002. I was in class XI and it was Children’s Day. Our school had the tradition of taking all the students to a nearby movie theatre (for those who know, Malancha). I was super excited about the whole thing, till I realised the movie to be screened was "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone"! But my dismay did not last for long. Thanks to the friend who was sitting beside me and who kept up a constant running commentary, explaining the scenes to me, I found myself immensely enjoying the movie. I felt the same amazement as Harry in learning that he was a wizard, laughed at Ron when he could not get "Wingardium Leviosa" right, felt bad at Hermione being teased by the insensitive boys of her class and ultimately realised that if I so loved he movies, then I must read the books.
So, I borrowed the thirst three books, which had released by then, from the school library and finished them one by one. All my previous indifference towards the books and my disdain for "all the girls who love Harry Potter" vanished. Instead, I became a die-hard Harry Potter fan. There was something magical about the stories of the boy who lived. It brought back memories of Enid Blyton.The friendship of Harry, Ron and Hermione in face of adversity reminded me of the Famous Five. The events in Hogwarts was so similar to the boarding school tales of Mallory Towers. The stories were a rich treasure house of all things fascinating.
I was the second person to put down my name in the advance list of borrowers in school when the fourth book released. I read the book continuously, in every class and every waking moment, rushing towards the terrifying climax of the return of Lord Voldemort. I started law school and met like-minded HP fans. Discussing the stories, dissecting events and the characters and wondering for hours whether Hermione will go with Ron or Harry became one of our favourite pass time.
Despite being a fan, I still don’t own any of the books. I have all of them as e-books, including a fake HP 7, which I found on the net. Tired of waiting for the real thing, I decided to read the fake one, which, I realised later, had got all the horcruxes right. The only hitch was that it ended as Dudley being a wizard and a dark one in the making 😉
Just before the seventh book was released, there were numerous discussions in Orkut HP fan forums and other fan sites about the identity of the horcruxes and whether the great secret about Snape was that he loved Lily. I myself spent hours on the net reading the analysis of others and adding my two cents to it. Such crazy were the fans, who had picked signs from all the books to deduce and derive at the ending. May be the only thing that we did not know was the Hallows part, since they were introduced only in the final part.
The day the seventh one released, I did not join a number of others who had pre-ordered the book at the abnormally high price of 900/-! At that time, I was in no position to afford the HP books which were almost always highly priced and this was one series whose pirated version I did not want to buy. So, I did what was next best – downloaded the e-book within 2 hours of its release. Locking myself up in my hostel room, I sat in my uncomfortable chair and encountered the final instalment of a series which I had grown to love and cherish over the years. I got a bit bored with Dumbledore’s life history, wanted the trio to find the horcruxes fast but at the same time, re-read "The Prince’s Tale" twice consecutively. I was vindicated as I had been crying hoarse for some time that Snape was not evil.
Frankly, I was never happy with any of the movie versions of the any of the books. I was always indignant about something or the other being left from the movie, which in my opinion was absolutely necessary. Any die-hard Potter ‘book’ fan will agree with me. But since the movie introduced me to this wonderful tale, I remained loyal and watched all of them. In fact, I, like many others, had began to identify Harry with Daniel Radcliffe. There was a separate charm about the movies. I remembered having high expectation about the on-screen translations of the confrontation at the Ministry at the end of fifth book which turned out to be quite tepid in the movie. Today, I was so hoping to see the final battle at Hogwarts and was sorely disappointed to see nothing extra-ordinary. Those who have applauded the special effects at the battle may have not seen the ones fought in Lord of the Rings! I was indignant at how the movie depicted Hermione letting Harry go on his suicide mission, whereas the book was absolutely clear on this aspect – that none of Harry’s friends would have let him surrender. I would have loved Neville to burst into flames along with the Sorting Hat and then chop off Nagini with the sword of Gryffindor. I would have loved to see the final confrontation between Harry and his nemesis taking place in the Great Hall in front of everybody else. But then a movie is a movie and a book is a book. The book always leaves scope for a reader to imagine a scene in his own way and so many of us imagine the world of Harry in our very own ways.
For me, the magic of HP ended with the release of the seventh book. Today, the world of Harry ended with the final movie. In between, I have read all the books and watched all the movies (till the sixth one) countless number of times. I will continue to catch a page or two and watch the movies on HBO every now and then and I know that I will never tire of the same.
The books of Harry Potter remind all of us that childhood still exists and as adults, we can always revisit it any time we want along with Harry.