It wouldn’t be true to say that majority of us have been enthused by Magic shows and the sheer curiosity to know the truth and techniques behind those illusions drives us to watch these shows. The west had tried to revive this dying art by glamorizing the daredevilry involved through movies like The Illusionist, The Prestige etc. But, in India due to lack of sponsors and well paid shows, Magicians have suffered. The lack of fortune, disinterest of print media and literally no innovation in the magic routines has forced them to their tragic state.
With the dominance of electronic media in entertainment, the journey of magic is all downhill from here unless steps are taken to breathe back life into this rapidly vanishing art. Role of media would be pivotal in popularizing the art form among children which has taken a backstage compared to singing and dancing.
Some of the famous magicians who in the past have kept us spellbound with their stellar performances and “Haath ki Safai”:
1) Magician P C Sorcar
The most familiar name among the Indian households, P C Sorcar was a brilliant scholar. An ethnic Bengali, Sorcar chose magic as his full time profession after completing his graduation. His magic routines soon earned him robust acclamations among Indian as well as foreign crowd. P C Sorcar had a true international appeal. He toured across countries to perform breathtaking magical tricks in a show named Indrajaal.
Such was his performance and influence over people that his name became synonymous to magic in India. In a rare honor bestowed to Sorcar for his contributions to society, the government released a postal stamp on his name.
2) Magician O P Sharma
O P Sharma also known as “Jadugar“ is a famous magician performing predominantly in the Northern states of the country. We all grew up looking up his posters which had only his extremely ecstatic face colored in Glowing green or Hot Magenta.
The man gained worldwide popularity when he made a building disappear in Jodhpur. Since then, he has pulled off a slew of such disappearing acts along with his son O P Sharma Jr.
3) Magician and Harmonica player Ashok Bhandari
Mr. Ashok Bhandari is a man of multiple traits. At the age of 15, the entrepreneur inside persuaded him to manufacture detergents. Later, he moved to Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India and his interests took an inclination towards Magic. Being a pro at playing Harmonica, Mr. Bhandari started performing shows to support his love for Magic.
The magician feels deeply hurt listening to the extent of abuse of magic by Godman and Tantriks primarily in rural India. Thus, he has thought of organizing magic workshops at schools to catch children while they’re still young and create awareness on magic abuse.
4) Magician Kantilal a.k.a K Lal
An iconic magician whose career spanned for more than 60 years, Mr. Kantilal Vora performed staggering 22000 shows in India and abroad. His audience included famous Bollywood personalities of yesteryears like Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Nargis etc. His stunning routines like “Head separated from Body”, ”Killer Saw” and many more enthralled viewers of all ages.
5) Magician and Shadow player – Prahlad Acharya
A prominent magician, escapologist, stunt performer and illusionist who hails from Udupi, Karnataka is termed as Indian Houdini by media. Mr. Prahlad is also an expert Ventriloquist and a shadow play artist. He performs under a show named “Maya Jadoo”. He also holds separate shows for his shadow plays under the name “Speaking shadows”.
His audacious performances of Escape from Bangalore Central Jail within 10 seconds, Escape from Jog Falls, Udupi Golden Chariot vanish etc. have made him people’s favorite. His recent shadow performances in India’s got talent saw him reach to the Finals and earned him lots of praise and recognition.
6) Magician and motivational speaker – Gopinath Muthukad
One of youngest of the lot, this magician from Kerala is a man on a mission. As an ambassador of Kerala Government, Gopinath travelled the state with the message of Literacy. He is the founder of the Asia’s first Academy of Magic at Thiruvanantpuram, India. At the tender age of 37, this artist has achieved a handful when compared to his peers.
These multi-talented personalities are in charge to act as an ambassador and make magic another sought after option for the kids to pursue. But, as emphasized earlier, without the enthusiasm of electronic media this art would continue to slip into oblivion.