Kolkata: Noted magician Chanchal Lahiri (47) popularly known as ‘Jadugar Mandrake’ (Wizard Mandrake) drowned while performing a stunt by entering the Hooghly river with his hands and legs tied with a steel chain and rope on Sunday afternoon.
Around 12.30pm, Lahiri had reached the Howrah Bridge with his team and was lowered into the river with the help of a crane for the act from pillar number 28. A large crowd had gathered in the area to witness the spectacle.
Lahiri’s nephew Rudra Prasad told News18, “I too was a part of the show. He entered the river with his hands and legs tied and successfully managed to unlock himself. Suddenly, the river current went up and he drowned. We are still confused why and how it happened. It’s a time-bound show and everything was going on perfectly, but the day turned out to be an unfortunate one for us.”
He said, “The body is yet to be traced and we are all in a state of shock. He was a renowned magician and had performed the same act several times in the past. He was an expert in the act, but I don’t know what happened this time. He dedicated his entire life to magic. It was his passion.”
Lahiri was a resident of Sonarpur in the southern fringes of the city and has a son, Durjoy (15). Friends, neighbours and even the local councilor have expressed shock over the incident.
In 2013, Lahiri was assaulted by onlookers while performing the same ‘Houdini act’ because they felt cheated when they managed to understand his trick.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Port Division) Sayed Waquar Raza said, “The North Port police has swung into action and a team of divers from the disaster management group has been pressed into action. Rescue operation is underway. We are investigating how the incident took place.”
Another well-known magician Subrata Kumar Mukherjee said, “It is a personal loss for me. Chanchalda was a highly trained magician. We were close. Besides, he was a social worker and helped many of his friends and poor people in the locality. We lost a great human being.”