The art of magic
Gopinath Muthukad inculcates folklore, customs and social issues of many a State into his magic shows. A profile of the patriotic magician.
MAKE AN elephant vanish into thin air, bring aircraft on to an empty stage, walk through the walls of Bakel Fort with utmost ease. To Gopinath Muthukad, his passion for magic is everything.
Hailed as the `Indian Houdini,' the magician was in the city recently as a part of his `Vismaya Bharatha Yatra,' a `magical journey' from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to spread the message of peace, solidarity and national unity.
Through his special patriotic magic shows, Muthukad fights against communalism, separatism, terrorism and other divisive forces that are fragmenting the social fabric of the nation. He realises this objective by inculcating the respective State's folklore, customs and social issues into his performances.
"The Veerapan magic, which we introduced here following the abduction of Nagappa, has been a major hit with the audience," says Muthukad.
His three-month long yatra, which began on August 15, will come to an end at the India Gate on October 31, the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi and Harry Houdini. " I will consider my mission accomplished if at least two per cent of the population has become patriotic after the yatra."
A native of Malappuram district, Kerala, Muthukad, like his role model David Copperfield, the world-renowned American magician and illusionist, became interested in magic at an early age.
"As a six-year-old, I stole Rs. 25 from my father's pocket to learn magic from a snake charmer. But it did not take me long to realise that I was swindled." Nevertheless, his fervour for magic remained unflinching and at the age of 13, he made his first public appearance.
Today with more than 25 years of experience behind him, Muthukad has transformed this ancient craft into a performing art dispelling the miasma of witchcrafts and superstitions popularly associated with it. "People today know that magic functions entirely on scientific principles. However, during presentation it covers up science completely and projects only art."
In Muthukad's opinion, there is an inherent advantage for magic over other performing arts, `the absence of language barriers'. "This makes it a significant medium for conveying socially relevant themes."
But then a magician also needs to be creative to stay in the reckoning. "There are only 13 tricks a conjuror can perform. Production, levitation, stretching, extrasensory perception, telepathy, animation, transformation, transportation, escape etc. are some of them. Based on these elementary lessons, a magician has to improvise and create, otherwise his shows will become repetitive."
In fact, Muthukad's urge to do something new keeps makes him innovative. In order to preserve the tricks of his magic for the next generation, Muthukad has locked up a CD documenting the secrets of his 15 best magical acts in a stone box and buried it in his Magic Academy in Kerala, to be opened exactly a century later.
Says Muthukad, explaining the rationale behind the unusual act. "Some of the most ancient tricks, like the Great Indian Rope Trick, vanished because they weren't documented. I want to preserve mine for posterity."
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