Till the 70s, Dakshina Kannada, like other regions, had only street magicians
For reasons not fully explained, many leading magicians of Karnataka have come from Dakshina Kannada or Udupi districts.
The latest flash is that of magician Kudroli Ganesh’s troupe of Mangalore reaching the finals of a reality show of a private television channel.
Mr. Ganesh, who once made the former Minister for Transport B. Ramanatha Rai ‘vanish’, and young Samartha Shenoy are among the few professionals who have decided to make a living out of magic.
Magicians suggest that till the 1960s and 1970s, Dakshina Kannada, like other regions, had only street magicians at a time when the greats such as P.C. Sircar and K. Lal toured different places in India, including Mangalore and Udupi.
It was Shankar of Udupi (now known as Prof. Shankar) who brought magic to the stage format in the region and won the much-needed recognition for the art form.
He might have conducted about 10,000 plus shows across India and in 11 countries, according to an estimation by his son Tejaswi, also a magician more popularly known as Shankar Junior.
Prof. Shankar was lucky to have been allowed by his employer – Syndicate Bank – first to promote bank schemes through magic and later to perform general magic shows keeping him on the rolls of the bank without asking him to work in the bank.
With livelihood ensured, he could tour throughout the country and abroad showcasing his art and making new experiments such as catching the bullet, disappearance of elephant and cutting a woman into two pieces.
His contemporary N.R. Chandra, now leading a retired life, Uday Jadugar, originally from Shimoga but a resident of Dakshina Kannada for sometime, and Om Ganesh of Uppunda, kept on experimenting and entertaining people till the 90s.
It was thereafter that a breed of magicians such as Prahlad Acharya of Udupi (who performed the trick of coming out of a box locked and dumped in Madhwa Sarovara of Krishna Math in Udupi), Mr. Ganesh, Rajesh Mali, Lolaksha – all of Mangalore – Astro Mohan of Udupi, Satish Hemmadi of Kundapur, kept the magic shows alive.
Ones like Pangala Shenoy hit the schools to popularise the art.
The world of magic is looking up with hope at two children of Mr. Mali – Apoorva and Anjana – who are shaping up as magicians.