STREET MAGICIANS WIN MUMBAI'S HEARTS
Aas Mohammed Khan and Babban Khan, the street magicians from Delhi, returned to mesmerise Mumbai in Feb 2009. They were performing every day between 5pm and 6pm at the Kala Ghoda festival. Watching them perform was an experience.
Often Babban would arrive at the venue, alone, armed just with his flute, a small drum and his little bag of tricks. Spotting an open space, he would start off by walking around in a big circle, carrying a bottle from which water was dripping to the ground. This would create a "water line" , which was literally a "Lakshman Rekha" or boundary which he was creating. He then took out his "dumru" small drum and started playing it. The insistent rhythm got people's attention almost immediately and they soon gathered in huge numbers.. all of them standing around the circle created by the water line on the ground. This was a magical "virtual boundary" which no one dared to cross.. see pictures below! He would then take out his flute, play a few notes, and the magic begun! It was an amazing, solo, one man entertainment army!
with flute &
Babban holding forth safely behind his "Lakshman Rekha"!
Check out his little bag of tricks - on the ground before him
What's that coming out of his mouth -- Nails, Thorns??
As the days went by the street magicians were literally mobbed everytime they showed up They were surrounded on all four sides by the crowd, often 200 or more strong. As more and more people turned up, they would push inwards and make it very difficult to even perform. Lot of photographers also were clickng away, including couple of TV cameras.. one was Star TV, the other one got away before I could find out where he was from. And the reaction when Aas Mohammed produced his mango tree on the streets of Kala Ghoda, was to be seen to be believed!
Photographer's Delight Mango Tree grown on the streets of Kala Ghoda!
Thanks to the efforts of my friend Werner Fernandes of Pink and White Consulting, and his entire team (especially Cynanda Noronha), the magicians got extensive coverage in all the major newspapers in Mumbai. They did private shows at a few newspaper offices and the media was absolutely zapped by their skills. The results showed up in huge, highly complimentary stories, often quarter page, half page, adorned with four colour photographs.. in each and every newspaper.. Times of India, Bombay Times, Hindustan Times, Times South Mumbai Supplement, Indian Express, Sunday Express, Mid-Day -- you name it, they were there! See the snapshots below!!
We got lot of calls in
The Mumbai Media's love affair with the magicians continued even after they left Mumbai -- Bombay Times carried a story on them even after they left Mumbai - see below
As a result of all the coverage, I got several calls inquiring about the magicians. One was from IIT - Powai. The magicians were invited to perform at the RN Saxena Auditorium of IIT. I sent them photos, and the IIT team made the a poster - 100 copies, and put it up all over IIT. See Pic below
An official email went out to the students as well. Even though their mid-sem exams had just started, the students, faculty and their family members turned out in huge numbers. The auditorium was packed, no room to sit, people were squatting on the floor and standing in the aisles..
Indian Flying Man at IIT
They got a standing ovation from the crowd at the end and were feliciated by the Dean of Student Affairs Mr. Gopalan. The IIT organisers said that there was never such a response from the audience, usually the hall is half empty but this time it was overflowing.
Dove Production on IIT Stage Dr.Appaji and Dr. Gopalan (Dean of Student Affairs)
In addition, they performed at several private shows. The Rotary Club of Mumbai Downtown invited them to perform. After the show was over, normally the audience makes a bee-line for drinks and dinner. Not this time! The audience was glued to their seats, not believing what they had just witnessed.... a mango tree growing on the stage, a boy vanishing from a basket..
An enterprising teacher Deepika saw the coverage and asked for a show for her children (students) which was also done and they were very happy. Two other friends Pankaj and Sandy organised private shows for their children and friends at Carmichael Road, Marine Drive and Khar.. but the location did not matter..wherever they performed, the reaction was always uniform - a curious but happy mixture of joy, surprise, disblief, and and amazement.. see pics below!
Carmichael Road, Marine Drive, Matunga, Khar..
it makes no difference!!
The Magicians spread their joy not just for South Bombay and not just at private shows. Students from the Tata Institute of Soical Sciences saw the coverage and called me. They were doing a project called Muskaan on mental health and child sexual abuse at a slum in Dahisar. They invited us to peform there and this was done on Sunday morning.. obviously at no charge.
The Rotary also sponsored their shows at the school for Deaf and Mute Children - and even these kids, conveyed by sign language, how much they enjoyed the show!
All in all, it was a memorable and busy busy week. The magicians owe you a great debt of gratitude for all that you have done for them, and they look forward to your continued support. They are now working on the Great Indian Rope trick.... that is a very expensive trick to create, difficult to perform, in fact hardly anyone in India does it these days. With your blessings, encouragement and support, they hope to present this to you next year ...
They are now in Goa, performing ten days, but that's another story...