Article 19: Platform 9 and Three-Quarters
For all the nerdy fantasies Manipal brings to life on account of being the quintessential geek haven, there has always been a large pool of untapped clientele that organizers of events hadn’t really considered catering to – the kids born in the 90s, who grew up reading the single most influential work of literature of this era; the series of books that taught over two generations to dream, to ponder gleefully over the inscrutable, and to believe in magic.
As another August 31st rolled by, and we mourned yet another year when our letters from the wizarding world failed to arrive, in a stroke that can be likened to wish fulfillment on so many levels, the organizers at The School of Communication made sure Potterheads had something to look forward to – an actual Harry Potter extravaganza, complete with cosplays, quizzes and so much more!
The event, dubbed as Platform 9 ¾, bore witness to a multitude of exhilarated fans, dressed as Hogwarts students, professors, death eaters, and Bellatrix (she gets a special mention for the sheer number of women cosplaying her!), in a nostalgic act of paying homage to J.K. Rowling, and the beautiful childhood she blessed us all with. For once, we blissfully discounted Dumbledore’s wisdom and forgot reality in favor of dwelling on our dreams; where robed wizards were a common sight, and butterbeer and polyjuice potion were casual drinks being sipped at counters.
Given that the use of magic outside Hogwarts is forbidden, one can only imagine the amount of work that went into making this event a success. From Hagrid’s Hut that sat cozy at the entrance to the snitches that hung from the ceiling, every little detail was perfectly weaved to resurrect the feeling of being buried inside the fantasy we’ve grown to love.
Walking inside, Hedwig’s Theme (playing in all versions possible- be it the original, Indian, or metal) reverberated through the courtyard teeming with a cultural blend of wizard-folks and muggles. The activities lined up for the evening were equally fascinating: not only could you get your fortune read from tea leaves, you could also get yourself inked with the symbolic death-eater mark (the long queue for which clearly indicated the popularity of dark wizards).
One side of the SoC Courtyard was converted into Hogsmeade, where you could satisfy your taste buds with (Mrs. Weasley certified) Honeyduke’s cupcakes or potions brewed into beverages. A stall dedicated to selling high quality posters (with a brilliant design collection and nominal pricing) was set up too, for those wishing to take home a memento.
Towards the other side of the courtyard lay the Great Hall, where the exuberant stage performances by the actors teleported us back to the pages of the books, while the quizzes made our brain cells tick to remember the intricate details concealed throughout the series.
The cherry on top was the Goblet of Fire inspired cosplay event, complete with a Yule Ball (nothing like watching a bunch of contenders formally waltzing to the learned steps, courtesy of Minerva McGonagall).
Platform 9 ¾ was essentially an introduction to The School of Communication’s annual fest – Article 19, the theme of which, “Freedom. Your right.”, was unveiled after the Yule Ball. Article 19, as it happens, is also India’s oldest core communication fest, and it proves to be an absolute blast every single year. With an opening as illustrious as the one we witnessed, the events of the actual fest are something that’s best left to our imagination.
As the evening drew to a close, and the cosplayers gave up their robes in favor of their muggle attire, the attendees were left yet again wishing wistfully that this weren’t all a mere fantasy. But to quote Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore again, just because the events at Platform 9 ¾ made perfect sense inside our very own Hogwarts-shaped bubbles of imagination, it shouldn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t real. The world that Rowling delicately entwined for us, and the magic thereof will forever remain with us irrespective of how old we get.
Article 19 proved exactly that through this event.
— Tejal Khullar and Rahul Basu for The Quibbler.
(Picture Credits – Manan Dhuri and Arjan Singh)