I have watched all Harry Potter movies first-day-first-show, except the first two. We were in hostel when the first two movies were released and had to wait for vacations to catch them. But ever since ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’, till the latest edition – I have celebrated them all. Another memorable experience was accompanying my friend to the final book release in 2007. It was 5.30 am. And the only people awake were a few dozens of us, the fans of the series, united by a certain bond of togetherness, sharing the same excitement and spirit. My friend had then commented – “It is unlikely something like this will be repeated anytime soon.” I had a similar feeling as I watched the final movie of the series this Friday.
The setting at Fame, Andheri was similar to that of the Landmark store, in Pune four years ago. It is rare to find such a packed house on Friday mornings, even in Mumbai. As we waited to enter the theatre, I could feel the same bond, togetherness, and passion on all of our faces. Some were busy revising the previous seven episodes, some were clarifying the doubts in the minds of the ‘forgetful’ fans (including me). You could hear lines like – “So, three more horcruxes are to be found… or is it four??” It was such an emotionally charged scene, I felt sorry for all who can not appreciate this phenomenon, and dismiss the series without bothering to read the novels.
A phenomenon like this will not be repeated anytime soon because of some very important factors. The seven novels of Harry Potter were released over ten years. And fourteen years went by between the release of the first novel and the last film. Any one novel or a smaller series will not be able to have such a continuous craze over such a long period. It will require a long series of bestsellers to create a similar fan-following, finally concluding with the final novel or movie that will generate the maximum hype, excitement, and footfalls. For this to be repeated, someone will have to come up with something as popular, over a long series of connected novels, over more than a decade. Most likely, it will again be something that can be read by children and adults alike, and its most loyalist fans would be teenagers who grew to their late twenties as the series progressed. Within our lifetimes, something like this being repeated is not unlikely, but difficult.
However, the movie did not satisfy me. I’m anyway not a big fan of Harry Potter movies and believe that a big-budget TV series would do greater justice to the novels. But I had really liked the seventh movie (‘Deathly Hallows’, Part 1). It had a certain stillness to it, the stillness before the storm, and it appeared to be dwelling more on the characters we so love, than a quick unfolding of events. The latest movie left me unsatisfied. Perhaps it has to do with its inadequacies to fulfill our expectations, especially because the last novel of the series was an undoubted triumph. But perhaps it also has to do with the sentiments associated with it – we now know it is the definitive end of a series we desperately don’t want to end. Perhaps it was impossible for the makers to satisfy us anyway. In fact, I’m divided over the question whether we should have more of Harry Potter novels. My heart says yes, my brain says no. I’m torn. The only solace for me is perhaps to revisit the novels, and experience again the magical journey of the boy who lived!