Preserving a dying art called magic

Preserving a dying art called magic

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mesmerising: Jadugar Anand performing tricks at a show held at Jagan Mohan Palace in Mysore. dh photos by prashant hg“ Who will lead India after me? Of course, Jadugar Anand!” wrote late P C Sorcar, one of the legends of magic shows in India. Sorcar was very fond of Anand and his magical nuances.

Journalist M J Akbar described him as ‘A new Houdini from India’ comparing Anand with legendary magician Houdini of the United States, who gave magic shows a new dimension.

Jadugar Anand, who has a career spanning about 50 years in the world of magic, is in the city with his big troupe to entertain the audience with his startling techniques and amusing art.

In a chat with City Herald, Anand reveals the transformation magic shows have witnessed in the last five decades. “Magic show is ranked seventh in the world showbiz.

Today, people demand novelty. Along with showing a few tricks, magic shows have become a full evening entertainment show. It is a combination of navaras (nine tastes).

The show is also about glamour — costumes, people on the stage, the art of presentation and making the set,” he says.

Previously, magic shows used to be just a show with a few tricks and no glamour associated with it. Times are changing. If one does not match the time, space and speed, he is outdated. The entertainers have more responsibility in the modern day. “I can disconnect people for two and a half hours from all their worries and depression.

The entertainment should get the people who are stressed and tired of a week’s busy work schedule get charged for the next week’s busy life. God has blessed me with such a power of art to hold people’s attention for about two hours,” he claims.

According to him, for any art one has to be outstanding to be recognised. Musician Bismillah Khan became world famous though not many Shehnai instrument artists could leave their mark behind. However, the art of magic has never received the status or respect like other arts in India, he remarks.

History

Magic shows have a rich history and legacy in our country. The King of Gods Indra himself is a well-know magician who uses various tricks. His tricks are popularly called
Indirajalam. Raja Bhoja and Raja Vikramaditya and King Bhanamati were also magicians. Magicians and trickmakers were supported in several courts of famous kings and kingdoms here.

However, the art lost its prominence during the pre-independent and post-independent era. Artists made a living performing shows on streets five decades ago. Still it is not treated as an art form, he says.

“I was attracted to magic by one such street shows outside my school in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh). Being a doctor’s son, my family never accepted my profession until they realised there was nothing wrong in pursuing one’s interest. I was thrown out of house thrice,” he laughs.

Despite many setbacks during the learning process, I was adamant to learn the skills of magical tactics.

Vision

“I have received a lot of love and affection from the people. In the latter half of my life, I want to reciprocate to my countrymen by opening the Academy for Magic in all state capitals so that the new generation can learn the art, which has been inherited from our rich culture and heritage. The magic show culture is dying and nobody is bothered — neither the government nor intellectuals,” the magician rues.

First

The first such academy is coming up in Jaipur, Rajasthan, where Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has supported the initiative. Gehlot himself is a good magician and comes from a family of magicians.

Anand has passed on his legacy to his son Akash, who is an MBA graduate from Symbiosis. Akash also knows the tricks of magic, but does not appear on stage as he is more involved in managing his father’s company.  However, his daring stunts has grabbed the nation’s attention.

 “I am keeping a tab on the new technological advances and exploring options on how our acts of magic can be customised to new media. We want to create a difference in world of magic,” he adds.

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