Readers Write In #193: The Boy Who Continues To Live

Posted on May 25, 2020


(by Abishek Balaji)

Revisiting the pop culture phenomenon of our generation

Corona virus made me do, as RandeepHooda said, the one thing I thought I’d never do – clean my room. While navigating through mountains of clothes,gadgets,question papers and books, I had a near-Imtiaz Ali moment- I made shelf discovery. In it was 4 of the seven Harry Potter books-the 2015 floods borrowed the other 3 permanently. Looking at them after years made me realise what Shraddha Kapoor feels every time she sees raindrops- an irresistible urge.

Abandoning my room purification I started to re-re-re-read them. There was practically nothing else to do during these times; I had even tried watching some of Netflix’s original Indian content.But Alas, all these years of gobbling up college pdfs and binge watching TV series had left my reading instincts numb. I couldn’t read more than 10 pages. I remembered reading Deathly Hallows in half a day back then. Switching on TV, I decided to watch K3G for the next 2113778hours, its aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa BGM supplementing my already depressed mood.

Then, a brilliant idea struck me- I had my friend’s cousin’s neighbour’s Amazon Prime account, which had all the Harry Potter movies. Considered to be a sin among many hard core Potter heads to watch the adaptions instead of reading the books, I dared to decide that I’m going to watch all of them, continuously.

I was pleasantly surprised and even mildy shocked at how well made most of the movies were. The first two movies were embarrassingly faithful to the books(though as adventure movies for kids they were competent enough), but after Prisoner of Azkaban, the tone gets darker, the atmosphere grows quiet, and I noticed that the movies exist in a parallel dimension to the books.

The inevitable problem with this was many scenes which I expected to see were not there(the final face off in Deathly Hallows especially was underwhelming), and those alien to the books will find it impossible to connect the dots. For instance, someone who didn’t read Order Of Phoenix will think how the hell did the good guys arrive to save Harry and his friends from the Death Eaters? The movie never mentions that it was Snape who called them. Similarly the movie never mentions why the Half Blood Prince is called so.

But for someone who is well versed with the books, the movies offer a LOT of satisfying things. Like the scene in Prisoner Of Azkaban where Nearly Headless Nick is seen chasing one of the ghosts running off with his head. Like the wondrous stretch in Order Of Phoenix where the Weasly Twins unleash their carnage but the fun is short lived as Harry sees a vision and drops in the floor. Reading something and imagining them in your head is one thing, watching them unfold with terrific visual effectsand back ground music is at another level. It is like watching a Samuthirakani movie after reading social studies.

I was only 7 when the final book released, and I still remember the crowds in the nearby bookstore – crowds that were hitherto unseen except at the Puliyodarai counter inParthasaradhy temple. When I saw Goblet of Fire at Sathyam, I was so scared that during every scene Dumbledore wasn’t present, I’d half-close my eyes. Heck, I even used to think Dumbledore was Gandalf from LOTR, a misconception that was rectified in Chamber Of Secrets when he says the opposite of You shall not pass– “Exams have been cancelled”.

I feel that the kind of Universal effect Harry Potter had will never be matched by the likes of Game Of Thrones(try watching it with a family member in the vicinity), the MCU(try watching them without the gobsmacking special effects) or the new Star Wars movies(try watching them). Harry Potter was such an inseparable part of my childhood. And it will continue to be so. Whenever I see a mark on someone’sforehead. Whenever some girl raises her hand in the class. And whenever I see Sun News(they ripped off the theme music).