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Soorya (Singapore) presents


The Three main dance forms of India by 3 highly reputed dancers and a Shadow Play

Bharathanatyam : Rama Vaidyanathan

Mohiniattam : Sunanda Nair

Kathak : Rani Khanam

Shadow Play : Prahlad Acharya

Venue: NTUC Auditorium, Level 7, No 1 Marina Boulevard

Date : 14 July 2013 (Sunday)

Time : 7:00 PM


Rama Vaidyanathan - Bharatanatyam

Rama Vaidyanathan is one of India's leading classical dancers. She is considered as one of the best interpreters of the ancient art form of Bharata Natyam. She has been fortunate to have trained intensively under the legendry dancer Yamini Krishnamurty. Rama has also been under the guidance of the eminent Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan.

Everyone who has seen Rama perform is struck by her unique thought process and fresh approach to dance. While deeply routed in tradition She has evolved her own individual style without forsaking the core principles of Bharata Natyam.

Rama has been performing professionally for the past twenty years and is one of the most sought after dancers of her generation. She brings to her dance a rare sense of devotion and dedication, which leaves the audience with a sense of spiritual fulfilment.

July 2013

Performances

Rama has been performing for the last two and a half decades. She has been featured in all the major national and international festivals including Government of India's Indian Council for Cultural Relations; National Academy for music, dance and drama - Sangeet Natak Akademi; National Television channels; Indira Gandhi Centre for the Arts (IGNCA); Delhi Govenment's Sahitya Kala Parishad and for various State Governments and other reputed cultural organisations such as The Madras Music Academy, Kalakshetra and various Sabhas in Chennai; Kalamandalam, Kerala; Ahilya Fort, Maheswar; Shanti Niketan, Kolkata; National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai and many others.

Rama has also performed for International conferences such as The World Sanskrit Conference, Special Charity performances for The Cancer Society, Water Festival of the IIC and for The Red Cross Society. She also performed at the opening of the Indian Film Festival in Madrid, Spain in May 2006 and Samudra Festivals in the Gulf Countries.

Her concerts at prestigious International platforms such as the Bozar, Bruselles; Smithsonian, Washington DC., USA; Tropen Theatre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Espace Julien, Marseille, France; Minon, Tokyo, Japan; Du-Store-Verden, Oslo, Norway; Theatro-Juarez, Guanohato, Mexico; Edinborough and Brigton Festivals, UK Les Orientales, Saint Florent le Vieil; , Musee Guimet, Paris; Teatro Fernan Gomez, Madrid; Cite de la Musique, Marseille; Casa de la India, Valladolid and in Moscow and St.Petersburg to celebrate 60 years of friendship between the Indian and Russian Governments were all received with critical acclaim.

Choreography

B R A H M A - J A L A - D H A R A' (Music Composed by GS RAJAN)

An ode to the river Ganges, the symbol and essence of India, its origin and the legends revolving around it. Ganges has been a cradle for the early Indian civilisation, nurturing them with its pure clean water. This is a sensitive production on Ganges, invoking its past glory and beauty, just as it cries out in pain against its heavy pollution. "For someone as young as Rama to choreograph these not so ordinary pieces is a feat in itself"... The Times of India "Rama's portrayal of Ganga flowing down to the earth was truly an inspired piece of choreography"... Indian Express

'I KNOW SO I AM' (Music Arrangement: RAMA VAIDYANATHAN)

I know so I am is a unique attempt to combine the vibrancy of Bharatanatyam with the poignancy of contemporary concern on SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS.The frame work of presentation is the blank poetic verses in English written and narrated by MEERA KHANNA.This production was premeiered in New Delhi.

SWASHAKTI (Music Arrangement: RAMA VAIDYANATHAN)

Swashakti presents the inherant strenghts of the Indian woman.Starting from the ARDHANAREESWARA concept where Siva is depicted as half man and half woman,the Indian Woman and Man complement each other's strenghts.lakshmi the goddess of wealth, Saraswati the Goddess of learning and Durga the Goddess of empowerment are the three ideals around which the Indian woman must build up her self esteem and power.The presentation draws from ancient literature and is held together by the blank verses in English by Meera Khanna.

Footsteps of Time' (Music by GS RAJAN)

This is a group choreography dealing with an abstract idea like TIME, one of man's greatest inventions, tracing its footsteps from immemorial to the modern time. It depicts the breakup of eternal time into past, present and future for human perception. With verses taken from the Rig Veda, it depicts how the celestial bodies like the Sun and the Moon by bestowing light and darkness, were significant reference points during the vedic age. In contrast, how in modern times, man has ignored the movements of these celestial bodies and has become a slave to the clock. Eternal time has been reduced to an eternal race against time. "However, the belle of the new choreographies ball was undoubtedly Rama Vaidyanathan"..The Hindustan Times

'Aangikam Bhuvanam' - a cosmic self - (Choreography: Rama Vaidyanathan. Music by GS RAJAN)

Rama choreogrpahed and presented this unique ballet with a group of 15 dancers and presented at the historic 'Purana Quilla' in New Delhi on the occasion of Ananya Festival of the Government of Delhi. This production was highly appreciated by all.

Shringara Trayi - (Choreography: Rama Vaidyanathan. Music by GS RAJAN)

A production in collaboration with noted art historian, Dr. Harsha Dehejia. Premiered on 12 October 2008 in Ottawa, Canada.

Kalindhi Katha - 'Yamuna tells a story'. (Choreography: Rama Vaidyanathan. Music by GS RAJAN)

Premiered in IIC experience festival, New Delhi on 16 October 2008.

DANCE OF BIRDS - (Choreography: Rama Vaidyanathan. Music by GS RAJAN)

In Collaboration with Arshiya Sethi, Founder, KRI

I have always beed fascinated by the movement dynamics of the Birds. Being a dancer I observed them from a totally different dimension, and worked on how I could recreate their movements using my dance as a medium. In the process I was amazed to discover several movements in the Bharatanatyam idiom which were extremely effective in depicting birds. Therfore working on this project has made me discover and enjoy the world of the birds as well as the versatality of my dance form.

Mayur- Allaripu - Allaripu,the traditional number from the Bharatanatyam margam has been used to depict the movements of the peacock. The sudden jerks and changes in the syllables of this piece made very good material to depict the peacock.

Lament to the Birds - The 3rd century poem from the Divyaprabandham has the nayika confiding in the birds her love for Krishna. She laments, cajoles, reprimands and treats them like close friends.She addresses the heron, swan ,parrot and cuckoo. She hears their calls, plays with them, dances with them and pleads them to take a message of love to her Lord Krishna.

Vrikshanajali - Ode to the tree. The tree which is the main habitat of the birds is a symbol of love and protection. This sanskrit poem draws parelleles between the human mind and the tree. The more the tree goes deeper into the ground , the more it is able to serve this earth. The more it reaches towards the sky, the more birds make it their homes. The picture of a bird perched atop a branch of a tree makes wonderful imagery in dance because it symbolises peace and trust.

Flight to Freedom - Birds are symbols of freedom. They represent freedom of the mind and liberation of the soul. They go against gravity and fly high into the endless sky. This is a metaphor for raising our own selves against this maya. To rise above all challenges of worldly pleasures and to journey towards the endless Brahman.

Awards n accolades

Rama is a top graded artiste at the Doordarshan (National Television Channel of India) and an empanelled artiste with the ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations). Received a production grant from the Department of Culture, Government of India for a special program "JAYA JAYA GANGAY" based on the River Ganges [1992]. Other awards include:

Department of Cultural Affairs, Colombo (Sri Lanka) [1998] of Cultural Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka honoured Rama with the title 'Jewel of India' in Colombo in 1998.

National Excellence Award by All India National Unity Conference [1999]

Best dancer award from The Music Academy, Chennai [1999]

Balasaraswati Award by Sriragam Fine Arts, Chennai [2000]

Nalli Kuppuswamy Chetty honoured Rama with the title - Natya Bhairavi - on behalf of Bhairavi Sabha on 4 Jan 2007 in Chennai.

Maestro Dr. M Balamurali Krishna honoured Rama with the title 'Natya Kala Vipanchi' on 31 Dec 2009.

Chosen to be a visiting teacher at Kala Bharati, a premier institution of Bharatanatyam in Montreal, Canada [2000, 2001]

Title of 'Natana Maamani' from Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai (December 2001)

Received a production grant from the Department of Culture, Government of India for an innovative and experimental choreographic work titled "Footsteps of Time" music directed by GS Rajan

"SANSKRITI AWARD" for her achivements in the field of Indian dance. (April 2003)

Rama Vaidyanathan receives the prestigious 'Kalai-Maamani' award from the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in Chennai in February 2011.

Videos

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Sunanda Nair - Mohiniattam

A leading exponent of Mohiniattam, Sunanda Nair has emerged as one of the few practising luminaries of this style of classical Indian dancing.She is considered to be "the prima ballerina among Mohini attam dancer's" and also one of the outstanding performers of the younger generation in India today. Vastly gifted with an attractive demeanour suitable for this form of dancing, Sunanda indeed casts a spell on her onlookers while performing. She exudes vitality, warmth and endows her dance with an added dimension, and she enchants the initiated and the uninitiated alike. It is her ability to infuse beauty in whatever she creates and give joyousness to her movements and expressions that set her apart from other practitioners. The movements are full of life and endowed with sensitive lyricism.

Sunanda is the disciple of the noted Mohiniattam exponent Padmashree Dr (Smt.) Kanak Rele who is renowned for her contribution to the revival and popularisation of this classical dance style.She has the proud privilege of being the first student to earn a Master's degree in Mohiniattam from Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalay affiliated to the University of Mumbai. Sunanda has prepared for her vocation both as a professional dancer and a teacher of dance, through rich and multifaceted experiences in higher academics, stage performances, classroom instruction and choreography. She is the founder director of Srutilaya Institute of Fine Arts, Mumbai where she imparts intensive training in both Mohiniattam and Bharata Natyam.

She has been trained from the age of 6 in Bharatanatyam under great gurus and also has trained herself in Kathakali from Kalamandalam KrishnanKutty Warrier and presently under Kalamandalam Gopalakrishnan.

July 2013

More details

Sunanda had her initial training in Bharatanatyam at the age of six and since then has given many performances in this style of dancing. She studied from masters like Kalaimamani Kadir-velu, Kalaimamani Mahalingam Pillai, Guru TV Sounderajan, Shri Dipak Majumdar, Smt Jayashree Nair and presently Smt Tejiswini Rao in Kattumanar Muthukumar Pillai's bani. Other than Mohini Attam and Bharatnatyam she has also had her initial training in Kathakali under Kala-mandalam Krishnankutty Warrier and since then has performed important female roles. Sunanda is continuing her training in Kathakali under Kalamandalam Gopalakrishnan.She is the first student to earn a Master's degree in Mohini Attam from Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalay affiliated to the University of Mumbai. Sunanda has prepared for her vocation both as a professional dancer and a teacher of dance, through rich and multifaceted experiences in higher academics, stage performances, classroom instruction and choreography.

Choreography

Sunanda has also choreographed many dance items in Mohini Attam and Bharatnatyam some of which are
1) Flow of the Ganges, 2) Dashavtar, 3) Ramayana, 4) Kumara Sambhavam, 5) Vasanta, 6) Parvati Kalyanam

Major performances

India : Khajuraho festival in Madhya Pradesh, Konark festival in Orissa, Yuva Mahotsav in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur, Ni-shagandhi, Kerala Tourism, Trivandrum, Kalidas Samaraoh, Ujjain, Modera Festival, Gujarat, Mysore Dassera Festival, Nrityotsava, Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, Bangalore, Vallathol Jayanti,Kerala Kalamandalam, Chakradhar Samaraoh, Rajasthan Sangeet Natak Akademi, India International Centre, Apna Utsav, New Delhi, Krishna Gana Sabha, Bharat Kalachar, Bharatiya Music and Arts, Madras, Nationall Centre For Performing Arts, Mumbai, Haridas Sammelan, Mumbai, Nitya Nityati And Tanmai Arohanam Festival, Bangalore, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, Shree Chitra Dance Festival, Trivandrum, National Festival of Mohiniattam, Nehru Center, Mumbai, Monsoon Festival Art India, New Delhi, Raindrops Festival NCPA, Samved Mumbai, Asia Pacific Heritage Festival and others.

Abroad : Ms.Sunanda Nair has been a part of many very reputed national and international festivals, and has won high acclaim from critics and connoisseurs of dance for her impressive dancing skills. She has travelled extensively for her performances to name a few for the Festival of India in the former USSR, the Spring Friendship Art Festival in North Korea, performances in Singapore, the Middle East, and extensively in USA and recently at the prestigious Carnegie Hall, New York.. The phenomenal strides achieved in these past years by the school and its dancers is testimony to the selfless efforts in teaching the art in its purest form and dedication of the teacher in inculcating the best in the disciples, with sincerity and integrity. Sunanda, is an empanelled artiste of the Cultural wing of the Govt of India, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and an outstanding "A" grade artiste of Indian National television. She is at present a research scholar in Dance under the guidance of her Guru Padmashree Dr Kanak Rele.

Sunanda recently had the Invite to multimedia release of her Mohini Attam DVD entitled "Lasya" showcasing her newly researched and choreographed items along with her talented students.

Accolades & Honours

A panel artiste of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations

An A graded artiste of Central Doordarshan

A scholarship from Central Sangeet Natak Akademi for advanced training in abhinaya and choreography under her Guru Smt. Kanak Rele

'Singar Mani' from the prestigious Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai

Nelluvai Nambeeshan Smarak Award for Mohiniattam

Natya Mayuri Natyanjali Trust, Chennai

Best Ethnic Classical Arts Award, New Orleans, 2003

Louisiana State Artist Roster

Global Excellence Dance Award, New Orleans

Global Indian Association Excellence Award 2012 'Kalasagar' in honor of the great Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval, 'Abhinaya Shiromani' St Louis National Dance festival, 'Nritya Shivali', Shivali Cultural society, Mumbai

Videos

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Rani Khanam - Kathak

Rani Khanam is one of the foremost Kathak exponents of India. With her immense talent, a total belief in herself and the courage to follow her intuition, she is a highly respected Kathak dancer and choreographer today. Rani Khanam trained under Pandit Birju Maharaj and Reba Vidyarthi for 15 years. She graduated with top honours in the Lucknow Style.

Rani has also become the first Muslim dancer to perform choreography based on Islamic verses, to highlight how Hindu art forms fused with the Islamic during the Mughal period in India. She was the first woman in her circle of relatives and friends to discard the veil. She was the first woman among them to graduate. She was also the first among them to dance on stage. Born into a highly conservative Muslim family in Gopalganj, Bihar, Rani Khanam has surmounted formidable social obstacles to become one of the leading Kathak dancers of the country, rated by many as the best of the younger lot.

July 2013

She has been performing regularly in reputed national and international festivals for two decades and has directed and choreographed many dance productions that have been internationally acclaimed. At present she is the Director of Aamad Academy where she conducts master classes. A respected Guru, Rani Khanam has cultivated and groomed some of the finest Kathak dancers in India & abroad. She is received one of the prestigious award ACC Fellowship Grant from New York for World Dance and Islamic Culture.

With her immense talent, a total belief in herself and the courage to follow her intuition, she is a highly respected Kathak dancer and choreographer today. Rani Khanam trained under Pandit Birju Maharaj and Reba Vidyarthi for 15 years. She graduated with top honours in the Lucknow Style. Rani has also become the first Muslim dancer to perform choreography based on Islamic verses, to highlight how Hindu art forms fused with the Islamic during the Mughal period in India. For excellence in her field Rani Khanam has been honoured with many awards.

She has been performing regularly in reputed national and international festivals for two decades and has directed and choreographed many dance productions that have been internationally acclaimed.

Training & Teaching

Rani Khanam, top pupil of Pundit Birju Maharaj, the top Kathak dancer in the world. Kathak gives a Sufi influeunced edge to a traditionally Hindu dance style. Kathak is a dance in praise of God. Rani Khanam is one of the foremost Kathak exponent of India. She is the first Muslim women to remove her veil from her community and walked long way against all odds to master Indian classical dance. With her immense talent, a total belief in herself and the courage to follow her intuition, today she is highly respected Kathak dancer and choreographer of the country.

For 15 years, she was groomed under Great Guru Pt. Birju Maharaj and Smt. Reba Vidyarthi. She specialised in the Lucknow style of Kathak, graduating with top honours from the prestigious national institute - the Kathak Kendra in New Delhi.

She served as a Kathak Guru from 1993 to 1998 at the leading institute Shri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra, Delhi. She is presently Director/Guru at Aamad - the academy of performing arts in Delhi for propagation of Kathak.

With exceptional prowess in rhythm and the aesthetics of expression, the themes of her performances reflect transcendental and abstract thoughts, portraying a sensitivity to the need for creative expression, her consummate virtuosity is aptly summed up by the renowned dance critic Leela Venkataraman - "See a consummate artiste like Rani Khanam dancing like an angel moving with light footed ease and leaping with the grace of a gazelle"

Sufi Dance Origins

Rani has imbibed the best of the contemporary and traditional Kathak, which she has enriched with the stamp of her own personality. She is the first Muslim dancer dare dance and choreograph for Islamic verses and gave a new dimension to Sufi dance.

She is the first Muslim women to remove her veil from her community and walked long way against all odds to master Indian classical dance. With her immense talent, a total belief in herself and the courage to follow her intuition, today she is highly respected Kathak dancer and choreographer of the country.

Her dance is devotion, her art a voice for many who don't have one. Kathak is not just a passion, but a prayer, a freedom to see herself and many others stand up for what they believe. Coming from a conservative Muslim family in Bihar, where dance was not considered an art but only a form of entertainment that did not deserve any respect, Khanam braved many rules, regulations, oppositions and ostracisation to carve a niche in the world of dance, pass on her gift to many others, make dance a therapy for those who are physically challenged and also fight for the rights of Muslim women in India. "It's been a long journey and an eventful one at that," smiles Khanam as she wipes the sweat after a mesmerising performance at Delhi Public School, Sector 40, as part of the ongoing SPICMACAY and ICCR Heritage 2011. The love affair with Kathak began when she was only five and Khanam describes a performance she saw then as a fairy tale.

That was just a beginning. What her family thought was a hobby was 'sadhna' for Khanam. She was forbidden to dance, her feet tied up and when she would dance, she had to tie a cloth over her ghungroos so that there would be no sound.

"I was told to hide the tabla and other instruments from guests and not do riyaaz and give up dancing as they wanted me to get married," Khanam goes back in time, recalling how she would wear a naquab and was also the first girl in the family to graduate from college. Nothing and no one could stop the 'junoon' and Khanam went on to learn from none other than Birju Maharaj.

Khanam works closely with physically challenged artistes, helping them to sing and dance even on their wheelchairs. "My art is a commitment to God, society, myself. It should make everyone happy."

Honours & Accolades

Rani Khanam has been honored for her courageous and pioneering work by such awards as Asian Cultural Council Fellowship: "World Dance and Islamic Culture", The Govt. of India's: Fellowship and the India Foundation's award: Outstanding Kathak dancer.

She is recipient of several awards, including the India Foundation Award by India Foundation Delhi; two years fellowship for her research work in Bhav Batana by the Ministry of Culture; Choreography Award by Sahitya Kala Parishad Delhi.

She is the Director of Aamad - Kathak dance Center in Delhi, A respected Guru, Rani Khanam has cultivated and groomed some of the finest Kathak dancers in India & abroad.

Notable Performances

For the past two decades Rani Khanam has performed regularly at reputed national and international festivals. Her tours abroad has covered major festivals like - 'THe Festival of India' in USA, USSR, Tropical dance festival in The Netherlands, 'Sound of spell' at Royal festival hall-London, the Islamic Art museum dance festival in Malaysia, Forde International Festival in Sweden-Norway, Indian Republic day celebration in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and many others programmes in England, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Oman and Sri Lanka.

For the past two decades Rani Khanam has performed regularly at reputed national and international festivals.

She has performed in major festivals of India like Jhansi Mahotsava, Ramayan Mela, Kanthe Maharaj Samaroh, Kathak Jayanti, Bhagyachandra National Festival, Surya Festival, Nishigandhi Festival, Konark Festival, The Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Her tours abroad has covered festivals like the Festival of India in U.S.S.R., Forde International Festival in Sweden, India Republic Day celebration in Krijistaan and Tajikstaan, Japan, Singapore, Oman, Sri Lanka and in England.

She is equally comfortable with the classicism of Kathak as well as its modern choreographic possibilities. She participated in a major choreographic work. "The Peacock" involving Kathak dance, theatre and contemporary dance. She has successfully choreographed new numbers based on the poems of Jaidev, Kalidas and Amir Khusro.

Videos

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Write up by Rani Khanam

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Prahlad Acharya - Shadow Play

"Speaking Shadow" is a mesmerising world of hand shadows weaving highly entertaining and interactive tales from the animal and human world. Where hands artistically encounter a source of light, to project on a large screen. A truly magical world 'where shadows speak' and come to life.

July 2013

Prahlad Acharya is a prominent magician, illusionist, escapologist, and stunt performer from Udupi, Karnataka, India. Renowned for his escape acts, Prahlad has been termed Indian Houdini by the Indian media. He is also an entertaining ventriloquist, and an expert shadow play artiste. He is married to Poornima Acharya who is also a Magician

Achievements:

1) Escape from Bangalore Central Prison within 10 seconds on December 10, 2001.

2) Unique Shadow Play Performance at Gili Gili 2001 - the International Magicians' Convention at Udupi in November 2001.

3) Udupi Golden Chariot Vanish at Udupi Sri Krishna Temple on September 1, 2001.

4) 1000th Magical Performance of MAYA JADOO, at the PPC Auditorium, Udupi on April 7, 2001.

5) Car Vanishing Act at the Karavali Utsav, Mangalore on February 14, 2001.

6) Outstanding Magician Award at Vismayam 2000 - the International Magicians' Convention at Trivandrum, Kerala in December 2000.

7) Houdini escape at the Jog Falls, the world's tallest waterfall on May 20, 2000.

8) Gold Medal for Ventriloquism & Silver Medal for Close Up Magic at the Golden Magic Conference at Kanhangad, Kerala in November 1999.

9) Escape from the Maximum Security Prison at Bellary within eight seconds on October 2, 1999.

10) Magic-on-wheels to create election awareness in Udupi District in 1998.

11) Founded the Magic & Allied Arts Development & Research Institute in Udupi on January 14, 1998.

12) Performance of the Legendary Indian Rope Trick at Kadekar, Udupi in November 1997.

13) Jagruti Rally - A blind-fold drive for AIDS Awareness from Mangalore in Karnataka to Panjim in Goa in May 1995.

14) Agnivyooha Chhedana (Escape from the Castle of Fire) at Udupi in September 1994.

15) Chinese Torture Cell Escape at Udupi in 1994.

16) Underwater Houdini Escape at Madhwa Sarovar in Udupi in 1993.

Prahlad Acharya, the Daredevil Magician By Shubha H.S.

"Magic is the trick with mysterious results, one to entertain" says the Oxford Advance Learners dictionary. Magic is an art. "In India, magic has not flourished because it is not looked as an art for entertaining but only as a means of cheating people," says Mr. Prahlad Acharya. This simple 27-year-old youth is a professional magician and a gold medallist in All India Ventriloquism. Though as a young boy, he started learning magic as a hobby, it has turned into his profession during the last five years having performed all over India and also in Dubai recently.

As a young boy of around 7 years, Prahlad watched senior Sorcar perform a magic show in Udupi. The magic of magic hooked on to this boy ever since. Greatly inspired by him, Prahlad went on to achieve and perform more wonderful feats. He sincerely considers him to be his mentor.

'I trained under Uday Jadugar for 6 months," says Prahlad about his training. It was during this time, under the able guidance of Uday Jadugar that, Prahlad also learnt Ventriloquism and shadow play. Ventriloquism is the art of producing voice sounds so that they seem to come from a person at a distance from the speaker. In simple terms, it is speaking without moving the lips. Shadow play is creating different shadow images on a screen using fingers. "Ventriloquism and shadow play are arts and not magic," he emphasises. Though in India, both these arts are considered a part of magic.

To prove magic as an art, Prahlad drove blindfolded from Mangalore to Goa on a two-wheeler in Jan '95. He covered the distance in two days as at every halt he and his team had to perform a few magical tricks. The act was held in aid of 'AIDS awareness' and was well received by the media and also by the public.

About the famous 'Indian Rope trick', Prahlad confirms that no magician has till date claimed to perform the original 'Indian Rope trick', though many other versions of the same have been performed many times by many magicians himself being one of them.

Prahlad is credited for pioneering fire escape tricks in India. Escapes by magicians, usually called 'Houdini escape' are hair-raising experiences for the audience as well as the performer. In the act, the magician is tied up using ropes and chains. Then they are either locked in boxes or tied in bags and thrown into water or fire. Within seconds, the magician escapes and comes out alive. These tricks are usually held outdoors. Prahlad has performed the 'underwater escape' 4 times and the 'fire escape' trick 5 times, following which many other magicians have tried to perform it. While performing one such trick at the International convention of magic in May '95, Prahlad had a major accident where he was almost fully burnt. When asked about the experience he casually says, "Its thrilling" and leaves it at that.

Prahlad has also performed the 'Chinese water torture' escape twice. Explaining the act, he says that the magician is tied in a polythene bag and left in an aquarium. A 50-kilogram sword is left hanging above him, which would drop at the 60th second. The water in the aquarium is connected to electricity, which cannot be touched. The magician has to escape within 59 seconds, which requires a tremendous amount of courage. "The magician should not be nervous and never be scared," says Prahlad. He also notes that self-hypnotism is sometimes used to overcome fear among the magicians.

Hypnosis, a state in which a person appears to be fully conscious but can be influenced to perform certain actions or certain things is usually linked to magic. Prahlad insists that "magic is purely technical. Though the hand movements of a magician during an act leads the audience to believe that he hypnotises." He also emphasises that though certain acts in magic are called 'black art', they are in no way related to black magic or witchcraft, as it is believed to be among the rural areas.

To create awareness among the people against such misconceptions about magic, Prahlad and his magician friend Nakul Shenoy have founded a magic institute called 'MAADRI' in Udupi. 'MAADRI' means Magic & Allied Arts Development & Research Institute.

"At MAADRI we wish to develop, promote and popularise the art of magic," says Prahlad. Magic is limited to a few ideas, which are repeated with different items. To generate interest among children, "we held short term summer courses last year. This year we plan to conduct 3-day courses for children and teach simple tricks. If the child is interested, they can continue to advanced course," he says.

The institute also plans to take magic into every house by performing little tricks in every household. The motto of 'Maadri' is awareness through magic says Prahlad. They also wish to make magic mobile by performing in interior villages in mobile vans.

"Due to the availability of magic kits, books and cassettes, magic has developed faster in India unlike before. Since there is greater exposure to magic on the Internet and E-mail like in western countries, people are aware that it is an art" concludes Prahlad enthusiastically as his desire to create magical awareness is slowly succeeding.

More about Prahalad Acharya

Prahalad Acharya, graduate in law from Vaikunta Baliga Law College, Udupi, took magic as a challenge and tried to solve the mystery surrounding it. Magic had fascinated him from childhood and made him take it up as a career. He is a self-taught magician, who have no formal training and his knowledge comes from books and help given by the great magicians like Lal, P C Sorcar and Uday Jadugar.

Born on 11 April 1975, the magic-bug bit Prahlad Acharya, in his career span of 17 years he has presented over 2,200 shows and 990 escapes. The dare devil performance of the "Houdini escape" has won him acclaim from magicians all around the world. Prahlad has performed extremely dangerous and death-defying escape stunts, earning him the title 'Indian Houdini'.

Also branded as the Daredevil Magician, Prahlad and his troupe 'Yakshaloka' has also been actively involved in promoting social education and awareness, through the art of magic.

Prahlad held several shows all over Karnataka, the proceeds of which were donated to the Gujarat Earthquake Relief Fund. Prahlad, who believes the art of magic to be a vehicle of social communication and education has undertaken various campaigns like AIDS Awareness Programme, Vande Mataram - the National Integration Drive, Election Awareness Programme, and Pulse Polio Campaign.

Prahlad, being the founder and Executive Director of the Magic and Allied Arts Development and Research Institute (MAADRI), Udupi, is currently nurturing a grand and ambitious plan to promote the Indian magic. He had recently been to the Gulf countries of Dubai and United Arab Emirates, and entertained his overseas fans also. Performing the ancient art of legerdemain in his own inimitable style, Prahlad has won himself a worthy place in the history of Indian Magic.

Prahlad's achievements includes escape from Bangalore Central Jail, Shadow Play, Golden Chariot vanish at Udupi Sri Krishna Temple, Houdini escape at the Jog Falls, escape from the Maximum Security Prison at Bellary and performance of the Legendary Indian Rope Trick at Kadekar, Udupi (1997). He also conducted a Jagruti Rally - A blind-fold drive for AIDS Awareness from Mangalore to Panji (1995). Prahlad won the Outstanding Magician Award at Vismayam 2000 - the International Magicians' Convention at Trivandrum, Kerala (2000). He also pocketed the Gold Medal for Ventriloqism and Silver Medal for Close Up Magic at the Golden Magic Conference in Kanhangad, Kerala (1999). (posted by Nakul Shenoy)

Videos

Video 1 - Mile sur

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