- An Indian magician drowned while performing a stunt inspired by Harry Houdini.
- Chanchal Lahiri, 42, was found dead on the banks of a Kolkata river on Monday. His limbs were still wrapped in steel chains.
- Just before the stunt, Lahiri told a local photographer he wanted to do the trick “to revive interest in magic,” the BBC reported.
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An Indian magician drowned after being chained and tied up, then lowered into a river inside a padlocked cage in a daring stunt inspired by the escape artist Harry Houdini.
Chanchal Lahiri, 42, who went by the stage name Jadugar Mandrake, was found dead on the banks of a Kolkata river on Monday. His limbs were still wrapped in the steel chains, according to The Guardian.
A local photographer, Jayanta Shaw, spoke with the magician just before the trick, and Lahiri told him he wanted to do the trick “to revive interest in magic.”
“I asked him why he risked his life for magic,” Shaw told the BBC. “He smiled and said, ‘If I do it right, it’s magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.'”
Lahiri’s trick was inspired by a similar one performed by Houdini, who pioneered the stunt in New York CIty’s East River in 1912.
Lahiri had successfully performed the trick in the past
For Houdini, it took just 57 seconds to escape handcuffs, leg-irons, and a wooden crate that was nailed shut and lowered into the river.
Lahiri had successfully performed the stunt at least a dozen times in the past, Sumit Kharbanda, the president of the Indian Brotherhood of Magicians, told The Guardian.
Lahiri was even assaulted by audience members in 2013 after trying to perform a similar trick at the same river, according to AFP. Onlookers had grown angry after watching him escape the cage using a door that was clearly visible.
Kharbanda added that he wasn’t sure why Lahiri ran into difficulties during his last stunt.
“He used to practice in swimming pools and rivers,” Kharbanda said. “All magic has to be perfect and it takes a lot of practice, but even with practice, things can go wrong. This was a very dangerous performance. I don’t know if it was a breathing issue or just not being able to undo the locks.”
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