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Harry hotter

Being 13 is an archetypal rite-of-passage age. It is a psychologically different moment for Harry and his friends. It's a much darker film.



The latest Harry Potter film is pulling the crowds like never before.

MUGGLES, BEWARE! The Harry Potter spell remains as potent as when best-selling British author J.K. Rowling launched her fifth novel in the boy wizard series in June 2003. The worldwide film release (though it was released in the UK on May 31) of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on June 4 proves this beyond doubt.

The first screen buzz from this Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry adaptation of the third (and most popular) Potter novel emanated at New York's Radio City Music Hall premiere on May 23. Dazed by the madness and mayhem around, that was where Daniel Radcliffe, 14 — who plays Potter — signed hundreds of autographs for adoring fans, who often address him as "Harry".

By May 30, young British fans were screaming their lungs outside a Leicester Square cinema. The film raked in over 4 million on its first day, making box office history. Tantalisingly, Rowling announced she was working on the sixth novel, without offering a deadline. Schoolboy Radcliffe, stumped for words, gushed: "It's bigger than New York. I didn't think that would be possible."

Excitement peaked in Bangalore on June 3. That was when the 10 a.m. queues for advance booking at Symphony wound all the way to traffic-choked M.G. Road. That was when the 352 seats for the 9.30 p.m. inaugural show at the Innovative Multiplex sold out by 10.30 a.m.!

What's special about the film? Mexico-born director Alfonso Cuaron, who took over from American Christopher Columbus after the first two blockbuster films, explained to the London media: "Being 13 is an archetypal rite-of-passage age. It is a psychologically different moment for Harry and his friends, Hermione and Ron. It's a much darker film."


So it proved at the 12.15 show at Symphony on Friday 4. The orphan with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead was on the run after he lost his cool. But someone else was at his heels — Sirius Black, a renegade wizard, who was a prisoner at Azkaban.

The audience, from six to 60, united by Potter mania, thronged the theatre long before showtime. A huge roar went up as the movie began. Cuaron's multi-layered, brilliantly crafted film left few indifferent. Kids gripped the edge of their seats or clutched at warm hands as spells and sorcery filled the screen, as the magical bested the mundane.

Shuchi had brought 13 children to watch, to celebrate her son Siddhant's eight birthday. "He's been crazy about Potter ever since he was six. He's read all five books... I used to think it might prove scary, but the kids love it, even my younger son." Siddhant added. "I love the way Harry casts spells."

During the interval, Potter fever filled the foyer. Rashmi, Hena, Ganesh, Jithin, and Akshay were just through with their plus-two course at National Public School. "I prefer the books. They leave more to the imagination. The movies tell us how to see it all," said Hena. Akshay pronounced: "The films are like a recap to us." Ganesh added: "The direction is much better in this film. The reviews were right." Any gripes? "The films leave out too much. I wish they'd put in all our favourite episodes. I wouldn't mind watching for over three hours, like a Hindi film," grumbled Rashmi.

Sathish, an agriculture finance consultant, turned up at the first show with his daughters, Nivedita (20) and Nandita (15). He responded as exuberantly as the teens as the surefire scenes unfolded. "My wife and I love Rowling. I introduced my daughters to the books. I'm waiting for more," he explained. Nandita stressed: "We read these books regularly during our exams — to relax. We've watched the films on CD so often." Nivedita added with a smile: "At least 50 times."

With two novels and four films in the pipeline, where can the global phenomenon go? It can only grow. A possibility as likely to zap us as its origins. In the germ of an idea that a Manchester Chamber of Commerce worker had while gazing at cows out of a London-bound train. Isn't that pure magic?

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