Once the toast of town for their engaging illusions and tricks, Kolkata’s celebrated stage magicians are now struggling to eke out a living far away from the arc lights. But a documentary, on these unsung heroes of stage magic, is spreading their legacy across the world.
“Fading Magic: The Story of Kolkata’s Magicians”, a documentary by city-based filmmaker Amit Sahai, is creating a ripple across international film circuits.
“The documentary film deals with the lives of once celebrated stage magicians from the city who are now, facing tough times due to changing audience tastes, free access to international shows through the internet and television as well as lack of infrastructure.
“Some of these magicians once used to have houseful shows at theatres such as Kalamandir but are now struggling to make both ends meet,” Sahai said on Friday.
Through interviews with stalwarts like Prince S. Lal, Sanmay Ganguly, Sam Dalal, Rana Bandopadhyay, D Subhash and Magician Charlie, the 50-minute film narrates the evolution of the craft and their practitioners through the 1960s and 1970s.
“Some had even acted in films like ‘Goopie Bagha Phire Elo’ and ‘City of Joy’. However, today they are unknown and unsung. It is also a matter of pride that Kolkata is a major global hub for manufacture of magic kits and items and a major chunk of kits used worldwide comes from the city. There are hundreds if not thousands who are employed in this field,” added Sahai.
Sahai, who is from the corporate sector and has no professional training in filming, said he was spurred to document the veterans after witnessing the ignorant attitude of spectators towards a magic performance at a birthday party.
The film has bagged an award at the recently held IFCOM Film Festival at Jakarta, Indonesia and
will be honoured at the upcoming International Film Festival for Documentary, Short and Comedy (IFFDSC) 2015 on November 14 at Jakarta.