Believe in Magic, you muggle!

This quote borrowed from Big Bang Theory aptly summarizes my relationship with Rowling and Harry Potter (the books not movies). I remember standing in Connexions in the summer of 1998 and wondering what book to buy. All Enid Blytons had worn off, Lord of the Rings looked too boring and frighteningly thick. I was drawn to this book with a blue car and two boys drawn on it that read “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. I read the synopsis at the back. ” At the magical school of Hogwarts…” I kept it down without a second thought. Magic, gah must be some boring thing meant for younger folks ( at 11 you tend to consider yourself very old and mature). I did read it eventually, all in the wrong order starting with Goblet of Fire, Prisoner of Azkanban, Socerer’s stone and Chamber of secrets (I did read the rest in correct order on the day of their release) and that was the time I realized the power of words. How they could create a whole new world, characters I thought were almost real, conjure up flying dragons, cars, wands, Diagon alleys, goblins just with words.That was truly magical for me, apart from the world it described of course.

This became my obsession for most of my early teens. I used to read forums after forums anticipating endings, reasoning out events with utmost sincerity, subject my dad to long details about the book everyday (so much so his email id now has a horcrux in it!) and read and re-read the books. Even today, a copy of the Dealthy hallows sits on my dining table and I have to set alarms on my phone to remind me to stop reading and do other things. (Sigh, I miss the days when I could lie on my bed all day and just read, my mom continually asking why I lacked this dedication in acads!) I have never read a more perfectly balanced story of love,hate, intricate details and most of all magic that appears so real. There is a good and bad but the shades of grey in everyone’s persona doesnt really take you too far from reality. It was honestly those times that were the most magical. Those hours you spend imagining how it would be if a platform 9 3/4 came up in Chennai central, or staring at spiders and wondering if you’d be scared if they were 1000x their current size. I have done all that. I was the lucky generation that grew with the books. Harry, Hermione and Ron were always my contemporaries and growing up with them has been the most enchanting feeling. The teenage angst, the deeper understanding of Dumbledore’s words that strike so much later, the desire to know everything was all in perfect sync with the books as they were released. I think we must consider ourselves exceedingly lucky that we could wait with bated breath at landmark at midnight grabbing on to the fresh new copies of the book and bringing torchlights along to read in the car on the way back. For me, the books were everything and they will always unleash the magic no matter how ancient I become.

But movies were a let-down. I watched the first two movies when I was in the thick of this PhD-like study of Harry Potter where I could chant spells in my sleep. I hated the movies. It somehow put an end to my imagination. I had imagined a fancier Hogwarts express, a more fantastic Hogwarts castle, a different Ron, a different Hermione ( Harry was somehow always drawn on the covers so he matched Daniel Radcliffe). But the main part the books missed was the magic, the unsaid emotions so brilliantly portrayed with just words. The sparks or the flashes of the spells didnt so much matter as did the emotions through the characters. It looked goofy. It still does today. I am never a fan of any of the movies, I am sorry. So I find this whole bidding good-bye and emotional send off un-understandable. I felt movies were a way to cheat, a way for folks who had never picked up a book in their lives to enter this magical world. But once I saw the movies, I was assured that they will never know the real beauty of this entire series.
Magical the whole 7 book series is – of balanced people with both good, bad and bewildering characters, of simplistic narratives and language that seldom called for the dictionary, of interesting insights into folklore, a whole new game that felt so real you even had betting and world cups for it complete with glittering opening ceremonies! My praise for the entire franchise could go on and on ( I realize I have written a lot already!). So let me make just a small request for anyone who is mildly interested in experiencing the great joy that millions of people(not just kids) had over the world but has only watched the movies. Read the books. Only then you’ve stuck with Harry till the very end!

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8 thoughts on “Believe in Magic, you muggle!

  1. I guess all of us have our own Harry Potter stories. I own them all and i guess me and my sis will have a full fledged legal battle to decide who owns them eventually! I read the first when i was 12 and i can’t agree more with ya that we are the lucky generation that grew up with Harry. I have lost counts how many times i read each one, read all possible fan fiction, pretended i study in Hogwarts and called paper parchment for the longest time i remember. I would read it when i would be very sad and it soothed me like nothing else.
    I just saw the first four movies and never tried to watch the rest for the same reason as you. I imagine a lot better!
    I think the set of seven books is going to be passed on from generation to generation.
    My childhood was very ‘magical’ because of Harry Potter.

  2. Very well written post! Can’t agree with you more! We really did grow up on Harry Potter and co. And no doubt, that was great fun and an awesome experience!
    Well, as far as the movies go, they served their purpose. Thats all. Sometimes they are fun to watch, especially if you are trying to find out what details and facts they have either missed or changed completely.
    But yeah, on the whole, reading the books was and is an unique experience and an excellent one at that!

  3. @Vika : Parchment! Haha, that is funny. Its nice to reconnect on Harry Potter after so long!
    @Venu: Yeah, I guess movies are good for the reverse reasons, to figure out what they missed! Cannot forget those awesome times in school we had!

  4. It seems like my own story 🙂

    The first book of the Harry Potter franchise I read was Chamber of Secrets. For the same kiddish art and magical keywords that you mentioned, I was skeptical, but my brother had taken possession of my Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books and I trusted the reviews from a friend. The words are beautiful and if you have a little imagination, they create a spectacular world in your head. The first few movies were a disappointment! The last two or three are a saving grace for those who would never touch the books – they just don’t know what they are missing!

    What I really love about the books is the fine detailing of characters, places, situations. It took seven books but Rowling created a complete world, to the extent you could understand every aspect of the wizards’ lives. As a kid I was entranced by the magical feeling and that the lead characters were my age. But when I read the book now, through Rowling’s books you also gain insight into the fabric of the society – now I can draw parallels between Harry’s world and mine. Maybe thats coz she is human and has human inspirations or I love reading into things! Either ways I am still hooked… Just wish I had more time on my hands :-/

  5. @Nalini: Couldnt agree more! The fine detailing is what sets these books apart from the rest. Also, I could also draw the connections between the society described in her books and that which surrounds us. In fact, I feel I am able to appreciate the books from a deeper perspective than before.

    I feel the same as you even today. In fact I’m thinking of giving the entire series a re-read especially the later books! 😉

    1. You know, the ones who prefer movies over books will probably not go through the trouble of reading this post 😛
      Of course, the books trump the movies by a long shot, though I can’t truly comment on it as I’ve only seen the first 3 movies, and tried to avoid any further spewing of constipated criticism by not watching the later ones. For me, the series was over with the 7th book, though I was hoping (in fact, I still do) that Rowling runs out of money and writes sequels to support her now lavish lifestyle, though that looks like a pretty long shot now :-/

  6. @Yogesh: Well I’m hoping someone reads it. I think Rowling has a future secured for more than her generation! Plus, the series is indeed over with the 7th book. I would not like any sequels. Though I’m not sure what ‘Potterwatch’ is!

  7. I didn’t like the movies either, for the same reasons that they did not live upto the images I had conjured in my mind while reading the books. In some ways, a picture can never be worth the thousand words…
    BTW, I am still stuck so badly on the Harry Potter craze that I am addicted to fanfiction all over the net. For some reason, I am really taken by Draco/Hermione pairing.. very intriguing… 😀

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