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The Magic of Godmen

Saturday last was a dull and soggy day and Kochi had still to awake from the Onam hangover. A reporter’s mare –dearth of ads and large empty spaces to fill. When someone said there was a Magic Show I volunteered to go- for the reason I would not have twiddle my thumb for the next few hours. The show had me spell bound.

The art of illusion illumed that dull and soggy day: the sleight of hand, the ventriloquist’s act and the yarns that embellished the spells captivated me. And even as I was transported to the world of make believe, travelling through the illusionary maze of deception, incredulous at what magician’s can do to one’s mind, an illuminati interrupted the colourful magical forays with an interlude grounded in reality. He introduced the element of skepticism. It was his lesson to us that magic is nothing but an art or entertainment and should not be mistaken for the sacred. He unravelled the mystery of the purportedly arcane relationship between the Gods and Godmen that enables the latter to produce vibhuthi from thin air. Those of us given to blind superstitious beliefs about Godmen were in for some therapy- we were shown the almost simplistic method of producing vibuthi. “There is nothing sacred or miraculous in this act. Godmen are not divined with special powers and it is only their love of the lucre that make Godmen turn the art of illusion into something holy.” Ezhupunna Gopinath revealed how vibuthi mixed with starch, made into sun- dried pellets could be hidden in the shirt- sleeves or in the folds of the palm. “When required the small pellets can be swiftly and deviously brought into the palm and crushed into powder.” Abracadabra! The magician had revealed the secrets of Godmen.

Another that I liked was the ventriloquist’s act. It was a deviation from the usual tricks of cards and handkerchiefs. Chinchu, the hand puppet was the serious looking doctor’s alter ego at play. Chinchu’s amorous demands –insistent ones- that he be kissed by those who came to talk to him seemed to embarrass the ventriloquist. It was a remarkable strategy and I almost forgot there was no delination between the creator and the creation. “This is not considered as a form of magic. I try to create all the emotions but I find romance and jealousy a little hard to enact. Perhaps it is because I am not romantic.” Said Dr Shafath.

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