Magician who tied himself in chains and submerged himself in a river is found dead
The body of a magician who attempted to recreate a Houdini-like escape trick has been found dead after wrapping himself in chains and submerging himself in a river.
Indian police have confirmed that a body found on Monday is that of magician and escapologist Chanchal Lahiri, 42, who is better known by his stage names Jadugar Mandrake or Wizard Mandrake, the Guardian reports.
The magician went missing around midday on Sunday after a ferry transported him to the broadest part of the Hooghly river in Kolkata. There, after being blindfolded, wrapped in chains and padlocked inside a small cage, he was lowered by a crane into the murky waters.
Per the Metro, Lahiri told reporters prior to the stunt that he had pulled off a similar escape act 21 years ago at the same location.
His final words to crowds and reporters were: "If I can open it up, then it will be magic, but if I can’t, it will be tragic."
However, after a significant amount of time, bystanders realised that Lahiri was not going to surface and he was in serious danger. It was later reported that Lahiri’s body - still tied up in steel chains - was discovered washed up roughly 1 km away from the stunt location.
The Guardian reveals how Madan Bharti, a historian of Indian magic, called Lahiri a "great stunt artist" and that his death is "a big loss for the Indian magic community".
Sumit Kharbanda, president of the Indian Brotherhood of Magicians in Delhi, has spoken out following the tragedy, revealing that Lahiri had successfully performed similar variations of this stunt at least a dozen times. Kharbanda even claimed that Lahiri was almost attacked by an angry mob when he performed the same stunt in 2013 and the spectators were convinced he had cheated.
"He used to practice in swimming pools and rivers. All magic has to be perfect and it takes a lot of practice, but even with practice, things can go wrong. This was a very dangerous performance. I don’t know if it was a breathing issue or just not being able to undo the locks."