Jan. 27: The inmates of Guwahati Central Jail want to learn magic, more for professional reasons than do a Houdiniâ€™s act.
The novel idea struck the jailbirds after city-based magician Sudanshu Das cast a spell on them during a Republic Day show at the prison. Several of the 650 inmates have approached the organisers of the show â€” Forum for Total Development of North Eastern Region â€” to organise a workshop where they could learn magic.
Many inmates said they were keen on taking up magic as a full-time profession after serving their term.
â€œWe instantly decided to conduct a workshop of seven to eight days in the jail when convicts like Madan Deka expressed his desire to take up magic as a profession,â€ Anoop Khanna, the co-ordinator of the forum, said.
Khanna said the forum has approached the jail authorities and got their verbal assurance to conduct the workshop as soon as possible. â€œInspector-general (prisons) S. Doley and superintendent of police (city) Hiren Nath took keen interest on the show and assured their support in our future endeavours,â€ he added.
Magician Das, an active member of the forum, said the group would organise a magic show anchored by the inmates if it got official clearance to hold the workshop and train the convicts.
He said it takes regular and rigorous training for several hours to perfect the tricks of the trade. â€œThe inmates have a better chance of becoming good magicians because they can practice for long hours in the jail,â€ he added. Yesterdayâ€™s show was organised as part of the forumâ€™s endeavour to spread messages of social importance through magic.
The main idea behind the show was to spread the message of patriotism and provide some entertainment to the convicts. â€œMagic is a good medium to communicate a message as it captivates the audience,â€ Khanna said.
The convicts were initially very indifferent to the show, but gradually got into the groove as it progressed, he said.
At the end, the show had to be extended for another 30 minutes with the inmates refusing to let the troupe as well as the authorities pull down the curtain. There was nothing the magician could do but oblige.
As Das pulled one trick after the other out of his sleeves, jail superintendent Sariful Haque admitted that he had never in the recent past seen the inmates so happy.
The most popular item was the Chinese rings where the magician separated a set of conjoined rings. An inmate was asked to volunteer and as he held a chain of three rings with two hands the magician unhinged the locks in a split second.
Das said the message was clear â€” no bondage was strong enough to hold something forever. â€œThere is freedom at the end of it all,â€ he told the convicts.
The forum, formed eight years ago by 11 people drawn from different walks of life, aims at transforming the lives of people through magic and create social awakening.
It is now planning to teach magic to a few handicapped people in the city for eking out a livelihood.