Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farewell Harry: The end of an era

On a certain cold December evening, a little over a decade back, I had ventured outside the cozy quarters of our apartment, parents in tow, for the sake of a visit to the local book fair. It was a pleasure trip and I had no plans for any specific purchases. Being the ardent Enid Blyton fan that I was (still am) I would've in all probability bought a book of the The Malory Towers series or maybe a classic or two. But fate had other plans.
My eyes landed on a very colorful cardboard box in a certain shabby-looking stall and upon further inspection I made out the names "Harry Potter Boxed Set" engraved on it.

The 11-year old me wasn't exactly what you call aware of the latest developments in the world of fiction but still the name "Harry Potter" did ring a bell.
Although I couldn't quite remember where I had heard of it, the brief summary written on either side of the box was enough to excite my curiosity and TADA. I knew I had to unravel the mysteries that the 4 books held inside.
Back then I had no idea that I was bringing something home which was going to be a part of my life forever, something which was going to enrich me as a reader in more ways than one and cement my relationship with reading into a permanent bond.

Come this Friday and the mad hysteria, the unbridled frenzy, the ground-breaking publishing phenomenon named Harry Potter is about to reach its conclusion, with the release of the final movie - The Deathly Hallows Part 2.
The saga that was conceived as a mere idea in J.K. Rowling's head on a train trip from Manchester to London, back in 1990, will come to an inevitable but sad end with the last movie of the immensely successful franchise.
The final book of the series had released back in 2006 and despite earnest requests from fans worldwide to continue with the series or atleast author a spin-off based on it, Rowling hasn't shown signs of ever writing another Harry Potter book. She thinks she has closure with Harry although she says it had been fun while it lasted.

For millions across the globe, especially those in my age-group, the Harry Potter books formed a part of our staple reader diet.
We grew up on the books. We grew up on the movies. We grew up with Harry, Hermione, Ron and their adventures.
Even the Harry Potter stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson grew up with the movies.

Image source:

Being the owner of any HP book was a matter of prestige back in my high-school days.

I still remember the envious glances directed my way, as I would take out a HP book from my backpack and read during lunch people who never showed any signs of becoming friends otherwise, would approach me very cautiously to ask me if they can borrow one of them.

I also remember those, who would openly go about dissing the books, because supposedly it was all "kindergarten fantasy crap". It was quite amusing to find people passing expert judgement on a series of books they've never read.
Not that it was unexpected. If something earns popularity, then it will gain its fair share of haters as well.

However fame and uncharted stardom weren't the only things associated with Rowling's brainchild. Controversies, acerbic critique and accusations of the central idea and character sketches being plagiarized from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings followed.
But somehow none of this deterred Harry Potter from attaining a cult status in the world of juvenile/fantasy fiction or came even close to preventing it from turning into the entertainment behemoth that it is today.

The books brought millions of children/adolescents back to reading, introduced major changes in the landscape of creative freedom in movie-making. Rowling had asked Warner Bros to be true to the spirit of the books while making the movies. And even though they may not always have lived up to the expectations of the fans, they surely did enough to bring the magical world of Harry Potter come alive on screen.

I can't help but experience an odd sense of nostalgia, when I think of the very first chapter of the very first book- "The Boy Who Lived". When I had turned over the first page, I had been blissfully unaware that the story which was just starting to unfold will eventually transform into an epic tale of good triumphing over evil, friendship, trust, betrayal, courage, love and every possible human emotion ever felt. That it would acquaint me with a bunch of sometimes-lovable, sometimes-quirky, sometimes-obnoxious, sometimes-mysterious or sometimes-downright-evil characters I would hold dear for the rest of my life.

Even though profound sadness envelopes me as I realize that this long but extremely fulfilling journey has come to an end, I feel the magic contained in the 7 books and 8 movies will continue to live on forever.
"The Chosen One" will never fade out from our memories or our lives.



Vamsi K Mohan said...

Very rightly said. We all grew up with harry potter indeed. Although I am not a very big fan of the movie, I totally totally loved the book. It is more like a parallel world to me. You even made me remember the time I couldn't stop myself from reading the order of phoenix before my social board exam. Really, Harry Potter is such a blessing to young readers. :)

Pulkit said...

It is the most influential book series ever and it is dubious that any series in the coming decades would beat it. I didn't grow up with the series as I read all the books and watched almost all the movies in a single month, but it still feels like I grew up with them.

And despite the end of the book and movie series, the Pottermore website, the upcoming HP-based amusement park and most especially the impression the story has left on millions will keep it alive...forever.

Zeba said...

I have the exact same opinion of the books. And it was definitely a matter of pride to have owned the books. I am a hardcore Harry Potter fan. Or was. I am not sure anymore. I watched the 7th part 1 yesterday and I feel it has lost its charm for me. Quite heartbreaking really.

Priyanka said...

Being a fan who's cried her heart out for Sirius, Dumbledore and Fred and rejoiced when Ginny kissed Harry and he swallowed the snitch/won the match and retrieved the Golden Egg, I bow to you. A fitting end to the saga.

Brilliantly written.

Kunnu said...

I remember completing the first 4 book in the series during my 4th semester exams. I was so hooked to it since the beginning. I was left a little disappointed with the last novel, which I felt was a little bit weak as compared to others. I enjoyed the books Chamber of Secrets, Goblet of Fire and Order of Phoenix. I have heard good reviews of the last movie in the series. I hope, it lives up to its billing. I am gonna see this weekend..hopefully :)

Prateek said...

The one who must not be named shall live forever. Come to think of it, I was in 6th or 7th when the journey to Hogwards began and now I'm a college goer. A decade of miracles will now halt.

☆ ayu☆ said...

i actually like harry potter movies but im not a follower of it..i have just watch the first and the 2nd movie..hmmm.but if i have given a chance i will watch all the movies in one sitting..haha..

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

I just hope that the movie ends lavishly doing good justice to the rest part of the story.
And perhaps, J.K. Rowling is right in having a closure. Now fans will miss Harry while he's gone.

Blasphemous Aesthete

SUB said...

as far the reviews go (imdb), it seems like a great ending...
alas! all good things comes to an end..

Selenium said...

I'm not really a huge fan of the Potter Series but the movies lack the thrill the books had.

The Hindi dubs were even more horrible. -__-

But Harry Potter series will always remain a tale from which I learned and will continue learning the art of imagery description.

Meera Sundararajan said...

Well,Harry Potter is more the book that my daughter has grown up with. I think somewhere along the way Rowling stopped writing for a children's audience and switched to adults. I love reading particularly Enid Blyton school stories like St. Clares and Malory Towers and I dont think HP matches them. But then each generation has its own heros right?

Freelancer said...

so true.. so damn true..

beautiful post. The chosen one will live on. Am going to do a post on it too

Perception said...

Harry will certainly be a part of our lives..

Neha said...

I have been sad! There is nothing to look forward to anymore you know! I read the first book in the year 1998 and been a fan since then..I am going for the movie tomorrow..

Loved this brought back so many memories..I had bought the books in my budget days too you know :) Thank you for giving me the link!

Anish said...

Love the books immensely but somehow never could care much about the movie.When the 5th,6th and 7th books were released bought them within a couple of days and polished them off in 2 days eating it all up like someone starving for a week.But while the books with Rowling's fantastic plot threading,great character development,vast and varied emotions (I cried when Sirius and Dumbledore died in the books) could stir up extreme feelings inside one,the movies never came close to capturing Harry's world in quite the same way.The movies claimed things got "dark" but never even close to the dark and truly terrifying effect that the book had.As for the Lord of the Rings inspirations,almost all books in this genre are in one way or the other inspired by LOTR so nothing wrong in that.

Harry Potter will always remain an integral part of the memories associated with childhood.Could relate with this post a lot as I am sure many others can.Looking back I am glad,I was that age when Harry Potter was ongoing as I got to read the books at an age it should be read to enjoy it to the fullest.

Alka Gurha said...

ya... being the owner of HP was a proud thing....I remember standing in queue and buying the first copies for my son....

Snow Leopard said...

Impressive tribute. Though I always felt the Potter kid a was bit of an ass and would have loved if he had been killed by the dark lord.
Despite everything you have written, I sometimes do feel, if the Potter series had started now, maybe, we would have dismissed it like we scoff at Twilight. Just think about it.

Nethra said...

It's alright if it ends because we always get to relive it by rereading the series. And I grew up with voldemort, not harry and hermione. :)

Saurabh Panshikar said...

I read Neha's reply to you on twitter regarding this post. Immediately on returning from work I had to read this post.

Studying in a rural area school I din have much ppl around me who could talk about or discus HP. I had so much to wonder but no one was interested yaar. Today I feel like being in the right company.

I like how this post is not overdone. And I would love to see the HP franchise not overdo it either.

Defiant Princess said...

The story's gonna live in all of us, forever.

Vivek said...

Hi , Though I'm not a fan of HP ..and haven't watched any part of Hp series ..but I know it feels when you love some stories ..and we always want it keep it coming to us with lots of new twist and turn and then suddenly we get it the last ..the end of the saga..

It always he life story there is always a end to every beginning ..
just enjoy the movie..

Hope it do well and give you great farewell :)


lunatic on l00se said...

Oh my! I feel so overwhelmed with emotions I just cannot describe when I see a fellow Potterhead being so articulate about their love for a book and life so magical...

It's amazing the kind of emotions the Harry Potter books have evoked in me, over the years. I've never been a fan of the movies as I personally felt that they failed to live up to the images and emotions created in the books. But coming to the point (:D) this post is brilliant!

"The stories we love best do live in us forever."

Cheers :)

Being Pramoda... said...

Pch...bidding farewell itself is a big deed and tough, if it is to be done for such a movie like HP.. its nt easy well..

Hope we see many such movies in future..

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