This Article is From Jun 18, 2019

Senior Magician Calls Chanchal Lahiri's Escape Game Attempt "Foolish"

Incidentally, PC Sorcar (Jr), around 50 years back in 1969, had successfully came out of a box after being locked inside and dropped in the Bay of Bengal.

Senior Magician Calls Chanchal Lahiri's Escape Game Attempt 'Foolish'

Chanchal Lahiri drowned in the Hoogly in Kolkata while trying to perform an underwater live stunt.


Legendary magician PC Sorcar (Junior) on Tuesday described the deadly attempt of the 40-year-old Mandrake to show an underwater escape act as a "foolish" attempt.

Mr Sorcar (Jr) also pointed to Wizard Mandrake's lack of adequate training and preparation before making escape trick.

Chanchal Lahiri, who tried to do tricks like famed magician of escape games Harry Houdini, drowned in the river Hoogly in Kolkata while trying to perform an underwater live stunt on Sunday.

Scouring through the river since Sunday, police on Monday evening found his body near Ramakrishnapur Ghat close to Howrah.

The body was identified by Lahiri's brother. 

"I feel very bad for this incident. It was a foolish attempt by a young man without taking adequate safety measures. And it was sheer bad luck of Lahiri. I think it was the result of a sheer enthusiasm," Mr Sorcar told news agency Press Trust of India.

Lahiri's attire was also "unfit" to take such an attempt which "possibly" led to the fatal accident, Mr Sorcar (Jr) opined.

"He was wearing heavy socks which looked like a gumboot and that did not help him in swimming to escape. His legs were also chained in such a manner that even when he managed freeing his hands he could not untie them leading to such a disaster. And I think he was also injured while being lowered into the water by the crane... He was also lowered in a wrong manner," Mr Sorcar added.

Lahiri, who was lowered into river Hooghly in a six-foot tall cage having six locks, from Millenium Park in Kolkata for the underwater escape act, disappeared near pillar number 28 of the Howrah Bridge on Sunday.

Incidentally, Mr Sorcar (Jr), around 50 years back in 1969, had successfully came out of a box after being locked inside and dropped in the Bay of Bengal.

"I made a similar attempt around 50 years back but I had taken requisite measures for it. There were a few others who had tried before me but failed," Mr Sorcar (Jr) said.

Meanwhile, a police probe with help from reputable magicians established that Lahiri, known as Mandrake, had made several mistakes while performing the stunt.

Lahiri, who was to come out of the water after being thrown in with his hands and feet bound, had not only failed to explain his entire act including his escape plan to his team, but also wore cumbersome clothing and guards that made swimming in the strong current extremely difficult.

The police on Tuesday started a suo moto case against all those who were present on the boat from where Lahiri was plunged into Hooghly river.

Lahiri, a resident of southern suburbs of Kolkata, had done the same trick in 2013 in same Hoogly river, but this time he drowned.

Six years back, people watching his stunt show had reportedly assaulted him after seeing through his trick.

The wizard was trying to do escape act popularised by American stunt performer Harry Houdini around 100 years back.

Lahiri had taken permission from both Kolkata Police and the Kolkata Port Trust, police said.

"He had mentioned the act was to happen in a boat or vessel and there was no connection with water. Hence we allowed him permission.

"However, he vaguely mentioned an 'extra act' which he did not clarify. We are investigating," a senior police officer said.

He took a ferry from Fairly Place Ghat at around noon to perform the magic, an onlooker said.

He was not only to be blindfolded, but his hands and legs were also to be tied up. He was to be picked up in that position from the boat by a crane, stationed on the Howrah Bridge, that would in turn lower him into the river. The magic was that he would come up from the water, by untying himself on his own.

Accordingly, he went to the middle of the river just underneath the bridge from where he was picked up by the crane and thrown into the river near pillar number 28 of the bridge.

The spectators who had gathered to cheer him started to panic as it was more than 10 minutes and Lahiri was not coming out of water. 

Some of the spectators called up the local North Port police station for help. Policemen rushed to the spot along with Disaster Management Group and started a search for him.

This was not Lahiri's first misadventure. He had declared a decade ago that he would walk on the river, but had to beat a hasty retreat when the act went wrong.