Tuesday, November 05, 2002

The Hindu : A double take on magic

Metro Plus Bangalore


Two ace magicians - Prahlad Acharya and Uday Jadugar - cast their magical spell on Bangaloreans with intriguing tricks.

The Jadoo Jugalbandi was an interplay of magic, drama, and breathtaking feats.

THE LUCKY ones, who attended a magical extravaganza - MAYA - Jadoo Jugalbandi - held recently at the Town Hall would surely gather why the legendary P.C. Sorcar once said: "Magic is the ultimate of all arts." In what was dubbed as a "first" in the history of magic in India, two renowned magicians - Prahlad Acharya and Uday Jadugar - shared the stage and kept the audience spellbound in their own inimitable styles.

The event, organised by Magic and Allied Arts Development and Research Institute (MAADRI), proved to be a hit right from the word go. And this euphoria among the public was also high as they witnessed two master conjurers. The magicians share an enviable record of having conducted 12,000 shows, both in India and abroad. The performance was a specialty for yet another reason, for Uday was to perform onstage after a gap of nearly a decade.

As a prelude to the show, the 20-member troupe - Yakshaloka Magical Entertainers (YME) - undertook road shows, which aimed to create social awareness among people. It was successful in areas such as Jayanagar, Vidhyapeetha, Banashankari, Hanumanthnagar, Mysore Road, and R.T. Nagar. "Though this time we focussed exclusively on creating an awareness on AIDS, we had, in the past, dealt with topics ranging from the Vande Mataram (national integration drive) to adult literacy. We were highly satisfied with the participation of the common man in our endeavour," says Prahlad.

Thirty-one-year-old Prahlad, who was tutored in the art of legerdemain by Uday, believes that his hard work has finally begun to yield results. "Though I still have a long way to go, when I look back on the 16 years of pursuing my passion I can proudly say that they have not been in vain." The "Indian Houdini", as he is popularly referred to, has every reason to feel elated at his efforts for he is acknowledged as one of the few magicians in the country who has a mind boggling array of tricks rolled up his sleeve of which death-defying escape stunts, levitations, vanishing acts, and transpositions are only a part.

Prahlad, an unassuming person, is quick to laud the performance to the members of YME, whom he credits with, "working diligently and ensuring that every programme is a unique experience for the audience." YME has a truly magical track record, in that, it presented its first show in September 1999 and with startling ease and held it's 1,500th performance at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in February this year.

Nakul Shenoy, the founder secretary of MAADRI and an avid magic buff, who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the area of analysing the potential of magic as a medium of social education and awareness, says: "Our minds are constantly working on new ideas. Every performance is an opportunity to innovate or invent something entirely unattempted. Audience response is the only yardstick in our pursuits."

YME has held magic shows on both large and small scales in several places in India and particularly in rural Karnataka. "Our aim is to create social awareness through the medium of magic to every nook and corner of our state. It is always a challenge for us when it comes to conducting our shows. But a rural show is always a special occasion for us because it requires far less effort in terms of getting people to watch a presentation as compared to elaborate advertising for city shows. I guess curiosity among the village folks is their plus point," feels Nakul.

Coming to the performance in the City, it included the Indian basket trick (an international award winning act), Kadinalli Jatre (folk magic act), Nada Habba - Once upon a time, and Punarjanma (Life after Death).

Uday, on the other hand, kept the audience in splits, courtesy his adept ventriloquism skills and shadow play. The ace magician amply demonstrated his prowess and sleight of hand through the various conjuring tricks he performed. "I willingly toned down my acts and let my shishya take centre stage. For it is always a proud moment for a teacher to behold the success of his student. I applaud Prahlad's sincerity," said Uday, who quit performing and began manufacturing magic kits and toys for several countries the world over.

Both Prahlad and Uday, who hail from Karnataka, say that their claim to fame lies in the fact that they have mastered the art of "people connectivity skills. Eye contact with the audience is a must, especially when doing tricks with the hand, without which the performance will lack in colour.

Every person watching the show must feel it is a novel effort and relate to the magician," explains Uday, a veteran of nearly 9,000 shows.

True to their promise, the show was an interplay of magic, drama, and breathtaking feats. In addition, the resplendent attire, scintillating sound, and brilliant light arrangement enhanced the excitement. "Since our shows are an amalgam of illusion and drama I prefer to call it Dramagic," says Prahlad. The magic show had a definite Indian flavour to it with the leitmotif and imagery revolving around ethnic settings. For one as determined and gifted as Prahlad could awards be far behind? Certainly not! The Udupi-born wizard has earned awards and accolades galore both at the national and international level. He, however, admits that it is difficult for him to pick a personal favourite: "I consider every honour bestowed on me as an incentive to perfect my art further. It eggs me on to be the best in the business," he says.

Apart from creating social awareness with his magic, Prahlad and his troupe have pitched in their mite towards worthy causes too. The master magician held several shows all over the state and donated the proceeds to the victims of the Gujarat earthquake last year.

But all is not well in the Land of Oz. For a man who escaped from a box in a matter of seconds after being thrown down from the Jog Falls this poser is a tough nut to crack. Why do a majority of states in India cold shoulder the art of magic? "It is a tragedy that apart from Kerala, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan no other Indian state has a magic academy. Though everyone the world over readily acknowledges that our country ranks foremost in this art form, those who pursue the profession are not encouraged," he says. His colleague, Nakul, wonders why this apathy of the Government towards nurturing the rich heritage in magic: "Whether it's a birthday party, a wedding, or any other occasion, a magician is called upon to entertain the gathering. But sadly magic itself is not accorded the status due to it. As a result of which it finds itself in troubled waters today." MAADRI is now making efforts to bring the plight of magicians in the state and across India to light and revive its sagging fortune. MAADRI has vowed to ensure that magic, as an art form, will be restored to its pristine glory. I am sure that whoever has watched the sterling performance of Prahlad Acharya, will agree with me when I say that here is a man who can escape from anything, except your memory!

Nakul Shenoy can be contacted on 98441-15234 or indianmagique@yahoo.com

Monday, Nov 04, 2002

Note: The contact number has since changed to 98441 30613.


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