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School of magic in ancient land of occult - Illusionist Anuj Kumar Das forms an academy to ensure show goes on

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By Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 16.05.05

Guwahati, May 16: Legend has it that Pragjyotishpur was the land of magic, producing sorcerers who could turn humans into creepy, crawly beings. The myths about magic have long been busted, but one magician is trying to ensure that the show goes on.

Award-winning illusionist Anuj Kumar Das today announced the establishment of the Northeast?s first Academy of Magical Arts at Durgasarovar, in Guwahati. The institute will start functioning next month.

Amal Dutta, adviser to the academy and a former lecturer of history at Benaras University, said Assam was known as the land of the occult in ancient times and it was necessary to keep the tradition of magic alive.

Magic was patronised as an art form throughout the reign of Ahom monarch Rajeswar Singha (1751 to 1769), but the tradition almost vanished with the passage of time. ?We hope the academy will be able to revive the art form,? Dutta said.

Mayong, a small hamlet in Morigaon district, is synonymous with black magic and has for centuries been seen as a place to be avoided.

Das, however, said magic on stage was pure science and ?should not be confused with black magic?.

?The basic objective of the academy is to bring magic to an academic setting and prove that it is an art form worthy of recognition. I want to make people realise the depth of magic, its place in our lives and its connections with philosophy, psychology, religion, theatre, arts and other disciplines.?

A graduate in English literature, Das started his career in magic in 1994 under the tutelage of Edward Arthur Morris of the US and Ted Winkle of The Netherlands. Morris is a former president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, while Winkle is a professional magician.

One of the highpoints of Das? career was being conferred the Maya Mayam Award in 2004 at the National Magic Convention in Hyderabad for his illuminating write-up, Magic and its Presentation.

Apart from Das, instructors from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will conduct classes in the proposed academy.

?There will be no upper age limit for admission into the academy, but a student must at least be 12 years old. ?I have already trained 11-year old Ishan Jyoti Baruah, who has successfully done shows at several places,? Das said.