Calcutta, July 1: Imagine a man with a live wire takes it near a lamp filled with petrol, and suddenly flames burst out, as if in the air.
That’s not from a movie scene, nor a magic show. It’s one of the many eye-popping acts two brothers from Asansol showed a team of judges at the auditions today for Zee TV’s talent hunt Shabaash India in Calcutta.
Akhilesh Tijare, the creative supervisor of the show, said he was in “search of common people doing extraordinary feats”. He got just that.
The two brothers — Saroj and Binod Sharma — are motor mechanics. In their spare time, they like to think up fire-and-live-wire stunts.
“Those who get used to slow poisoning do not die by poison. That is our case. We are motor mechanics and have got used to sparks while repairing cars,” said elder brother Binod.
The brothers migrated to Burdwan’s Asansol from Bihar and set up the garage in Fatapur.
“It was our youngest brother Subodh who applied to participate in the show Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch bhi Karega last year on Sony. We used to practise on the sly as we were scared that our eldest brother would disapprove of our stunts,” said Saroj, the third in the line.
Subodh reached the quarterfinals in the Sony show after the brothers “practised” in their “spare time after putting in long hours at the garage”.
This time, they came determined to make a bigger impression.
As power was switched on, a high-tension insulated wire in Binod’s hand crackled blue as current coursed through it and came near the metallic surface of the converter, or even the floor, though the converter through which the power was passing, was placed on a platform of wood, an insulator.
Then, with a sharp intake of breath, Binod clutched the naked tip of the wire and brought his finger near the wick of a lamp that Saroj had doused with petrol. The wick caught fire, and from the lamp the flame almost leapt out.
For the next trick, Binod held the wire in one hand, and with his other hand he took Saroj’s arm to let the current flow through him. Saroj then took his hand near another lamp. Flames again.
A piece of cloth soaked in petrol too caught fire when rubbed against Binod’s arms.
“It is such a dangerous act, we feel scared to do it alone. But before an audience, our courage multiplies and we do it out of pride,” Saroj said.
The younger brother said after such a stunt he feels a little light-headed and as if his skin would peel off, but “we drink some water and we are soon fine”.
An electrical engineer present on the spot advised them never to do the act without enough insulation under their feet.
“If there is leakage through any metal in your shoes, it could be fatal,” he warned. “It must be affecting your bones too,” he added.
But the daredevils seemed undeterred. “It is not as if we do it for any more than a few seconds, nor is this our living. We only want to stage a show abroad which will make foreigners doff their hats to the courage of Indians,” said Saroj.
If the Asansol brothers played with fire and electricity, Sheikh Amirul Haq, who also from Burdwan district, took on a challenge involving glass.
Amirul, a farmer’s son from Khetiya village, stood without flinching as a friend smashed 15 neon light tubes on his arms, back, chest and head.
That wasn’t all.
Amirul then lay with his back on the shards of glass as his friend stood on him.
“The little cuts and bruises do not bother me. My dream is to run a 500m race smashing my way through hurdles of neon tubes placed at distances of a foot or so,” said the 21-year-old, who has studied till Class XII and now helps his father in the field.
Another contestant played a mouth organ with his nose, one showed a magic trick or two, a group of acrobats from Jharkhand formed a 10-ft human pyramid.
Tijare, touring nationwide for the auditions, said the outdoor acts he saw in Calcutta were brilliant. The city’s stuntmen would be vying for a spot on the show with other daredevils who have bent rods using just their throat muscles or have done yoga asanas at the edge of 300ft cliffs, Tijare said.