The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Culture to cement social harmony
- ANIMAGIC showcases unity in diversity

The show uplifts the spirit and helps bring people together. This came from Cincinnati mayor Charlie Luken, introducing a Manick Sorcar multimedia extravaganza in his city. In an America desperately seeking to build bridges across the gaping holes left in its social fabric by 9/11, the multi-cultural package put together by magician P.C. Sorcar’s eldest son has been providing just the right “healing and educating” touch.

Says Sorcar, in town with Sorcarama, “Calcutta-special animagic”, to be staged from Saturday at Uttam Mancha: “About six months after September 11, I started getting calls with requests to do something on the ‘harmony’ theme. Innocent people were being harassed all around the country, at subway stations and shopping malls, for looking like Arabs. This had to stop.” Since Sorcar’s animation shorts are based on Indian folk tales but use western technology, he found the idea a useful extension of his work, showcasing the fusion of two cultures. “If people are intolerant and ignorant, you can’t teach them with the cane; culture is a more acceptable medium,” he smiles.

Sorcar’s ‘Harmony’ cast is a mini-USA in its diversity. “It’s a mix of Indians, Chinese and white Americans, though the number varies, depending on how far from home (Denver, Colorado) we are travelling.” And the show has travelled across the US — to Detroit, New Jersey, Cincinnati — after repeat performances in Denver.

According to Sorcar, the most enthusiastic takers of the harmony theme are “the white politicians and the Asian business houses”. “I get so many calls from the Asian chambers of commerce. After all, their business suffered because of racial tensions,” he points out. In Denver, for instance, the annual Dragon Festival has flourished in the past two years. “Such programmes give people a platform to interact on a social level. Someone asked an Indian lady wearing a bindi: ‘Are you bleeding'’ She explained it was a decoration. These simple exchanges help reduce the feeling of alienation,” Sorcar says.

The most popular item in the two-hour show is Synergy, where American Indians, white, black, Indian and Chinese Americans come on stage in separate groups, creating flower formations while matching steps in their own distinct dance forms. Animation provides the backdrop to the unifying action unfolding on stage. An ‘A’ morphs to a Sanskrit ‘a’, while a Chinese pot melts into an American-Indian one. In the end, all petals of the flower hold hands and dance together. “The message is simple but it needs to be sent across now to dilute the tension,” says Sorcar.

If education is Sorcar’s aim in the US, he is in Calcutta purely to entertain. Sorcarama brings a play of live action and laser beams for the first time to the city. “I have used laser beams as a painting brush and used the intelligent lighting technique, in which any pattern of light can be created by moveable multi-head fixtures controlled by computer programming,” says Sorcar, an electrical engineer by day and an animation artist by night.

The live action bit will be provided by daughters Piya and Payel, and the young team they have trained in the “barely three weeks” they got after touchdown at Dum Dum. “Our family line is on the stage, so we are really excited about performing big time here,” smiles 22-year-old Payel, busy helping her father in the race against time to D-Day.

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