Thiruvananthapuram

Twenty-five magical years for Kerala’s ‘Magic Academy’

Academy of Magical Sciences during its launch. File   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In the early 1990s, magician Gopinath Muthukad used to travel from his native Kavalamukkatta village near Nilambur to magic shows across the State. In one of those trips to Thiruvananthapuram, he met writer Malayattoor Ramakrishnan, who advised him to shift base to the capital and use magic to create awareness about various issues among the public.

Thus was born the Academy of Magical Sciences, or Magic Academy, which is set to complete its silver jubilee on Monday.

"Malayattoor told me that magic should not just remain in the streets, but should become an academic discipline. His idea was that people should be made aware that it is a science, to expose those who use magic tricks to spread superstitions in the society. He took the initiative to purchase eight cents of land in Poojappura to set up the academy, got it registered as a charitable society and made arrangements for the inauguration ceremony too," Mr.Muthukad reminisces.

The inaugural event, attended by the then Culture Minister T.K.Ramakrishnan, was noted back then following a magic trick involving the high profile guests. When CPI leader Kaniyapuram Ramachandran finished his speech, he noticed that his ring was missing. As the frantic search was progressing on the stage, playwright and actor Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair revealed himself as the 'thief', who had got it through a magic trick. Muthukad reveals that this was a drama scripted by Malayattoor so that the event would be noticed.

Academy of Magical Sciences. File

Academy of Magical Sciences. File   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

In the early days, Muthukad himself used to cycle early morning to Thampanoor to distribute notices on the academy along with the newspaper bundles. Over the years, students who completed the courses from here have taken up magic as a profession both within the country and outside. A few celebrities, including actors Mohanlal and Jayaram, and politician M.K.Muneer have also learned magic from here.

In recent years, the Academy has spread its wings further, to the four-acre Magic Planet campus near Kazhakuttom, where a Different Art Centre (DAC) has been set up in collaboration with the Kerala Social Security Mission to teach magic to differently-abled children. Studies conducted by various agencies, including the Government's Child Development Centre, have noted the improvement in daily living skills among the students who have taken up the course. A batch of 23 students from the academy became ambassadors of the State Government's Anuyathra programme to make the State disabled-friendly. The differently-abled who are completing the course are being equipped to earn a living through magic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the classes in the academy as well as the DAC had to be shifted online.

The work on a Universal Magic Centre to provide permanent employment to the differently-abled students, is nearing completion. This will have different sections featuring magic performances by visually challenged, aurally challenged and other differently-abled people. The Magic Planet campus currently has rehabilitation facilities for street performers.

The academy has also organised four 'Bharath yathras' from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, spreading various social messages through magic, drawing appreciation from the then Prime Ministers and Presidents.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 3:47:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/twenty-five-magical-years-for-keralas-magic-academy/article34681790.ece

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