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Harry out to make history all over again

Mandira Nayar


NEW DELHI: It has been the "best guarded" secret in the country for the past seven days ever since the container landed on the muddy shores of Mumbai. As the secret lay stacked in sealed boxes at undisclosed godowns across the land with men in blue keeping vigil, the country was waiting anxiously through Friday night for dawn to bring the "truth" out.

While the security measures might seem straight out of a 1970s Bollywood film with "Loin'' Ajit as the villain, the "maal'' is not gold biscuits from Dubai but something perhaps more "powerful" -- the world's most popular wizard.

"We have hired Group Four Securitas for protection of the book. Three guards will be placed outside all the godowns across the country through the night. The books are kept in cartons that are still sealed. These can only be opened after midnight GMT,'' explained P.M. Sukumar, Head of Sales and Marketing at Penguin India.

Keeping the treasure safe against the "dark forces" that are as scheming and desperate as Lord Voldermort is certainly a task that is cut out for the "hero" himself, but publishers can only depend on muggle legislation to ensure its protection and not on the power of magic.

"We have also signed legal agreements with all our distributors ensuring that they can't open the book before the embargo or pass out the information. We have also hired a firm of lawyers who specialise in copyright law. They will keep an eye out for pirated books and then work along with the law enforcement to raid places,'' he added. The sinister plot to destroy the "Half-Blood Prince'' might not have worked in Parvati Patil's land, but according to rumours the dark forces have struck in Canada and leaked the contents on a website. But Penguin India claims that there is nothing to worry about, even as it is taking no chances.

"This is the second time we have hired Group Four Securitas. The last time was when Harry Potter's `Order of the Phoenix' was released. We have taken good care and did not even open the container when it came off the ship till we reached the godown so that no one knew what it was,'' said Mr. Sukumar.

A runaway hit much before the copies of the book hit the stands in India at 6-30 a.m. this Saturday, J. K. Rowling's eagerly awaited sixth book "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'' has in every sense of the term cast a potent spell on muggles that no magic in the world can reverse. With the number of advance booking for the latest book double those for the last book, Harry Potter is a word that is all set to rewrite history in literary circles and beyond.

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