Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Deccan Herald: Drama plus magic, dramagic!

By MICHAEL PATRAO, Deccan Herald

Young Prahlad Acharya from Udupi is more than a magician. He is an escape artiste, an illusionist, a ventriloquist, and much more, says Michael Patrao

He is a magician. But what he does is more than magic. His magic has an element of music, dance and drama. It is dramatic and he likes to call it 'Dramagic.' Besides Prahlad Acharya from Udupi is more than a magician. He is an escape artiste, an illusionist, a ventriloquist, and a shadow play artiste.

His most recent and dramatic escape was on December 10 last year, when prison officials watched helplessly as he vanished into thin air from a cell of the tightly-guarded Bangalore Central Jail. 'Jail Break, A Convict's Dream' marked the World Human Rights Day as Prahlad successfully performed his disappearing act. Minutes after Prahlad was put into one of the cells of the jail by Senior Superintendent of Central Prison P N Jayasimha and Assistant Superintendent Jawaregowda, handcuffed and chained, the illusionist appeared amid spectators free from any bondage.

Earlier in October 2, on Gandhi Jayanthi day last year he escaped from the famous Bellary jail. He was handcuffed by the Jail Superintendent V S Raj. He was securely put inside a box. The box was tied with ropes, locked and placed in a cell. He enthralled the police and the prisoners alike by escaping in a few minutes and later surfaced among the prisoners. He also entertained the inmates of the jail with other tricks.

For his dramatic, dangerous, and death-defying escapes he has earned the title, Indian Houdini, after the famous American escape artiste. Some of his famous stunts are the car vanishing act at the Karavali Utsav, Mangalore (February 14, 2001), Houdini escape from a box at the Jog Falls (May 20, 2000), performance of the legendary Indian rope trick at Kadekar, Udupi (November 1997), a blindfold drive for AIDS awareness from Mangalore to Panaji (May 1995) and Escape for the castle of fire at Udupi (September 1994).

Prahlad last hit headlines when he made the 1.5 crore Golden Chariot of Sri Krishna Mutt at Udupi disappear on September 1 last year in front of a mammoth crowd. He repeated the same act with a replica of the golden chariot of Udupi at the 1500th show at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall on February 10 this year.

Prahlad also uses his magic for social causes. The proceeds from several of his shows were donated to Gujarat Earthquake Relief Fund. As a vehicle of social communication and education he has undertaken various campaigns like AIDS awareness programme, Vande Mataram - national integration drive, election awareness programme, pulse polio campaign, among others.

Escapes levitations, producing items out of containers or thin air, transpositions, are not the only things he does with a flair. He also performs an entertaining skit using ventriloquism with a pet monkey, Kitty, and shadow play with a story woven around it, showcasing his versatility.

The highlights of his shows include the Indian basket trick (an international award winning act), producing basket after basket from a container, producing umbrellas one after the other seemingly out of thin air, Kadinnali Jatre - a folk magic act using folk dance and music, Magic in Disneyland - magic using the characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and of course, the ever-popular act - sawing a woman in half.

Born on March 14, 1971, the magic-bug bit Prahlad at a young age after watching the performance of the legendary P C Sorcar. He made up his mind that one day he would make a name for himself as a magician. In a short span of 16 years he has achieved his childhood dream. Prahlad has performed in most parts of India and has recently been to the Middle East countries.

Prahlad calls his brand of magic 'Maya Jadoo' just as P C Sorcar calls his magic 'Indrajal.'. Prahlad is supported by his troupe from Yakshaloka Magical Entertainers. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Magic and Allied Arts Development and Research Institute.

He is the recipient of several awards like the Outstanding Magician Award at the International Magicians Convention at Trivandrum (December 2000), Gold medal for ventriloquism at the Golden Magic Conference, Kanhangad, Kerala (November 1999) among others.

Photo details (photo titles as given):
A] Magician Prahlad Acharya combining drama in one of his magic performances
B] Acharya and his troupe combining the elements of drama and dance in one of their magic performances

--- Appeared in the 'Youth Herald,' Deccan Herald dated March 05, 2002.

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