Sixteen years ago, a once-in-a-lifetime event transpired in the history of my all-girls convent school. A 100 of us fifth graders were lined up and walked across the street to the nearest movie theatre. By then, an epidemic was already spreading in our classrooms. Suddenly, a boy wizard was beginning to replace the likes of Nancy Drew, Famous Five and Secret Seven. I mean, not that I cared. I wasn’t into reading anyway. Especially if the book had no pictures.
Then the lights dimmed in the theatre and my life changed in the next two hours. No, I am not exaggerating. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone completes 16 years this week and this movie inextricably altered how I saw the world as a 10-year-old. It made me realize and believe in the power of the human imagination, of love, the importance of friendships and loyalty. And of course, that it was always, ‘It's leviOsa, not levioSA!’
Last year while I was pursuing my masters in the UK, I visited the Warner Brother Studios near London where the majority of the Potter films were shot. From the beginning of the tour, I was bawling my eyes out because I felt the nostalgia taking over me. I was in the Great Hall, at the Dursleys house on Privet Drive, the Gryffindor common room, inside the Hogwarts express and the cupboard under the stairs…all at once.
The first Potter film is even more special to me because that one movie led me to reading the entire series in a frenzy and also start writing. At 25, I still don’t know what I would be if I wasn’t a compulsive reader and writer.
This year also marks two decades since Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone was first published. What the books and the film series did for me as an extraordinarily shy and introverted child was nothing short of magic. I was finally finding power and agency in my words, thanks to the boy who lived and just about every other character in the stories who taught me a thing or two about life.
Sixteen years hence, watching this film was one of the most special gifts I had received on Children’s Day.
What would Dumbledore say?
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”