I've always liked fantasy but I have never known that I had liked it so much. I have been casually interested in fairy tales (Chandamama freak) and fantasy and out of the normal stories. But usually I linked it to my generally voracious reading appetite and not to any specific love for the genre as such.
Lord of the Rings somehow made me conscious of this (or should it be Harry Potter 1?). The changes were felt earlier when I went to see this first Harry Potter movie. I had generally a neagative impression of the book just because it had got so popular all of a sudden. But I went to the movie anyway (with Utsav (Tommy), Man and perhaps Sheri, though I don't remember it very well). I kind of liked the movie. Then came the books which I finished as soon as I could. By the time I attended college, I had read all five (or maybe four) books that were out in the market. I wouldn't say I became a huge fan the way some people were, but I loved the books, in particular books 2 and 3. Later instalments looked like a lot of mature, political fundas crammed into an already oversized kid's story which is not bad per se but nothing great either.
In the second semester I read The Lord of the Rings. Having seen the 1st movie before attending college, I had become a semi fan. Needless to say, I was blown over. I read it thrice fully and at one point of time, was trying to write in Elvish and Entish. Then came Eragon (and after a year, The Eldest). I also got to see the work of Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, Terry Gilliam and others. Obviously, I became a huge fan of their works. Tim Burton in particular is probably among the greatest I have seen. Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Batman and Robin, Corpse Bride, Vincent (his early five minute movie), Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (what a great picture) among others. Others random fantasy movies include Mirrormask (random movie), a regular Neil Gaiman scripted dream dominated movie.
But the movie that made me sit back and take notice was El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth). A masterful movie, it has probably transcended the genre of Fantasy and Realism both. And no, the conventional name of magic realism is something I wouldn't encourage being invoked. It is gritty, brutal, gruesome and fantastic all together. Definitely not for kids, it still keeps intact the innocence that evil cannot imagine.