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Why a Potterhead is sceptical about watching Fantastic Beasts

The Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Theme, is nearing its premier and the fan in me is exhilarated but tense.

fantastic beasts Updated: Nov 15, 2016 13:41 IST
Prerna Madan
Prerna Madan
Hindustan Times
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,Harry Potter,David Yates
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them releases on November 18. (Warner Bros)

I have a tiny handcrafted music box that pours the delicate notes of Hedwig’s Theme — a tune I’m as accustomed to as Harry Potter was to his scar. John Williams’ hauntingly beautiful creation, which embodied Harry’s complexity to perfection, hits home every single time. It taps on the wall that opens to the wondrous Diagon Alley, into Hogwarts’ secret passages, into the Room of Requirement, into the world I’ve spent a huge chunk of my childhood in. It takes me back to Harry Potter; which is why listening to the theme on the upcoming spinoff, with characters I haven’t yet greeted or connected with, makes me uncomfortable. The realization dawns that the franchise is being squeezed for publicity. For, this may be the same magical universe, but it isn’t the same galaxy.

The Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Theme, is nearing its premier and the fan in me is exhilarated but tense. I defy Dumbledore’s wisdom and concede that this fear of the unknown might be the next great adventure but what will this five-part series introduce and what if it feels like an alien planet—threatening my apparition to the wizard world again.

Fantastic Beasts has a star-studded cast too: Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, the morally-torn hitman who paired up with Harry Potter’s Mad Eye Moody Brendan Gleeson in ‘In Bruges’ and the one who doesn’t need any introduction for his accolades or controversies: Johnny Depp.

Read | With Depp playing Grindelwald, the hunt for Fantastic Beasts’ Dumbledore is on

But the disconcerting feeling strikes again. Harry Potter, through the years, was personal because of its coming-of-age story. It was a cocoon where one could safely bask in its warmth, and the non-mainstream actors (at least until then) only made the experience rich.

This image released by Warner Bros. shows Colin Farrell (left) and Eddie Redmayne in a scene from, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (AP Photo)

Now, you can question why Fantastic Beasts, also directed by David Yates, can’t do the same for fans. The answer is: It can. It can even be a great movie, probably even is if we solemnly swear by the trailers. But does it seem fair to invoke Hedwig’s Theme and grossly utilize Harry Potter’s imprint for publicity; because after all, a spinoff of this grand stature can take the leap of continuing the magical universe without a blatant misuse of its parent.

I heaped praises on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and spared it from scrutiny simply because the play opens 19 years later, essentially telling of Harry’s transition to adulthood and the complexities born out of his fame. It wasn’t an unforgettable addition to Harry Potter but it remained true to its roots and its characters. This might be the right time to concede that while reading the screenplay, I imagined all characters as older versions of themselves from the movies and not those cast in the play.

It’s not that we haven’t witnessed this degenerating influence of corrosion that scrapes the sides. The sheer number of spinoffs and the host of new characters bombarded into the mythological cosmos blunted my love for Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels.

Read | Everything you need to know about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Eddie Redmayne in a scene from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (AP Photo)

But as I rant about Fantastic Beasts, there is yet another feeling that penetrates through the conservative in me: the all-pervading curiosity, which will drag me to the theatre on November 18.

2016 has been a year of anomalies. It has seen Donald Trump elected the president of the ‘free-world’ champion. The obscure English football club, Leicester City, were crowned Premier League victors and Britain voted to leave the European Union. In this topsy-turvy world, Fantastic Beasts appears to be a safe bet. The worst you might have to sit through is another rant.

Watch the trailer of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

First Published: Nov 15, 2016 08:45 IST