Hollywood Features

Harry Potter’s 38th Birthday: A Potterhead Reminisces On How The Films Were As Compelling As The Books

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On Harry Potter’s 38th birthday, a Potterhead goes down the memory lane and recalls how the films compelled him to read JK Rowling’s fantasy-fiction book series. 

The year was 2004, Orkut ruled the roost and never even in Mark Zuckerberg’s wildest imaginations would he have thought of becoming the third richest person on the planet (let alone losing a couple of those billions in a matter of few hours).

At 12, I was used to having real fights as opposed to a bunch of guys from my class who would be seen running around with pencils in hand and talking gibberish. Eventually, things got to such a stage where it became impossible to ignore the parallel nerd-world of theirs as the crowd kept getting bigger.

This elitist nature of their world gave the worst form of complex to the uninitiated like me. But for me to at least mock that world, I had to understand its syntax. Thus began my pursuit of the Harry Potter universe.

Being the typical urban kid of the 2000’s, I wasn’t a fan of reading and hence had to resort to movies. As the trivial nature of my aim should’ve suggested, I didn’t feel the need to start from the beginning.

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Hence my first brush with the Harry Potter world came with its second movie – The Chamber of Secrets. Once the movie began, I found it to be mildly engaging (strictly with the help of a Potter-fan who sat beside me).

But that began to change progressively. Harry’s fight with the Basilisk, the snake sinking its teeth into Harry’s arm, Harry stabbing Tom Riddle’s diary, the diary sprouting blood in response; this climax was a thrilling experience. I was anxious to find out more about this boy.

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Philosopher’s Stone was what I turned to next. The scene where Professor Quirrell’s turban comes off in twirls to unveil Voldemort’s face on the back of his head got etched in my memory. But with Prisoners of Azkaban, the story got the better of my age. I couldn’t fully comprehend what Hermione did with the clock gifted to her by Professor Dumbledore. Though, I do remember the poster of a Sirius Black behind bars, dementors and the spell ‘Expecto Patronum.’

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These three movies compelled me to pick up the first book. As I went deep into the series, I realized that there was a lot that didn’t make it to the movies. I had finished the first five at a go and was in the middle of waiting for the sixth book and the fourth movie.

The fourth movie was thoroughly disappointing as it left out a lot of elements from the book. The book had me on Harry’s back while he rode his broomstick trying to steal the dragon’s egg during the Tri-wizard tournament. The movie could never really bring that feeling to life, probably because it was busy trying to squeeze in other things from an already story-heavy book.

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People queuing up outside movie theatres for tickets was a common sight, but the same happening for a book? No way! I was fortunate enough to witness that with the release of the sixth book. It had a smashing story which more than made up for the fifth one which was a big bore except for the last act.

Since the sixth part, the movies, while staying faithful to the source material, began to acquire a grim and dark tone. What started off as a children’s fantasy now bordered on horror when it came to the mood of the movie. Regardless, people seemed to love it and thronged to the theatres.

The seventh book which was initially available only in a hardback edition (and was expectedly expensive) saw me pick up a fight with my mom who didn’t consider it worth the money. After a small wait, which I prayed to be worth it, I managed to get hold of the book and devoured it. The makers released the movie in two parts as they thought it would be difficult to fit the contents of the thick book into a single movie.

My quest to catch up with the crowd and stroke my ego ended in a fond memory.

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