Sunday, May 19, 2002 Magic is a mass medium: Indian Houdini, Acharya

By Charan C S
Friday, May 17 2002 13:12 Hrs (IST)

Acharya levitatas a woman during a show Bangalore: He has been dubbed as the "Indian Houdini" for his dare devil acts of surviving the death-defying 960-feet fall from Jog Falls and escapades from high security jails in Bangalore and Bellary.

Concerned with the growing use of magic by conmen, Mangalore's Prahlad Acharya, 31 years of age, now looks at magic as a medium of communicating to the masses.

"With the passage of time, magic is becoming more and more 'practical'. Now, people are inclined to include magic shows for promotional activities. You can see a magic show during the launch of movies and other consumer products," he told in an informal chat during his 'Maya Jadoo' show at Bangalore's Town Hall.

Having been actively involved with various product launches, Acharya is also heading the Magic & Allied Arts Development & Research Institute (MAADRI) nurturing an ambitious plan to promote the art of Indian magic.

"Besides popularising magic as an art, MAADRI is also into research on the potential of magic as a medium of communication," MAADRI secretary Nakul Shenoy chipped in.

The salient feature of Acharya's shows is that they are very Indian in nature. With his troupe 'Yakshaloka Magical Entertainers', which he set up in 1988, he promotes magic with a very Indianised ethnic touch.

His shows include the Indian basket trick (his personal favourite, which also brought him an international award), Kadinalli jatre (festival in the forest) and Nada habba (folk magic acts). Punarjanma (reincarnation) and other acts comprising unbelievable escapades, levitations (gravity defying trick), productions, vanishes, transpositions, ventriloquism and shadow play are some of his other popular items.

Proud of the fact that his shows have a very Indianised touch, Acharya calls his performance as "Dramagic"– a unique blend of magical illusions and dramatic sequences.

Ever since he performed his first show in Bellary, Karnataka in September 1999, Acharya has completed over 1,600 stage performances in various cities and towns alluring the young and the old alike with his deft movements and 20-member troupe.

The best compliment that he cherishes is from parents who at the end of the show tell him, "You are a true magician, for you have made our hyper-active child to sit for two straight hours watching the show!"

Belonging to a new genre of Indian magicians, his aim is to spread social messages through his performances. He, in fact, has been actively involved in creating awareness on a host of issues like AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome), national integration, pulse polio and other issues related to the common man, both in the urban and rural areas.

With a magical hat as wide or wider than a 'Pandora's Box', Acharya continuously strives to innovate as he enthralls his audiences. His efforts have won him widespread national and international acclaim.

Acharya will continue to perform in Bangalore till June 10.


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