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Hss...the boy’s a snake now!

Magicians Aas Mohammad Khan and Babban Khan from Ghaziabad are in the city. Chesta Wadhwani attends a magic show and comes away enthralled...

entertainment Updated: Feb 09, 2009 19:51 IST

Magicians Aas Mohammad Khan and Babban Khan from Ghaziabad are in the city. On Saturday, they were waving colourful bits of cloth at the Kala Ghoda festival, oblivious to their wide-eyed audience. After all, it’s not every day that a mango tree sprouts out from a single seed in minutes.

The forefathers of these seventh generation jadugars, had apparently worked their magic in the court of Mughal emperor Akbar and his successors. But use the word jadoo and you are greeted with a scowl. “We are not tricksters. It’s an art we have perfected. Those who understand our craft will assure you that what you see are superior illusions. Those who don’t will call it jadoo,” snaps Mohammad Khan.

Chain reaction
Dressed in a jazzy blue outfit called band with a neckpiece in woven beads around his throat, Aas Mohammed chews colourful crepe paper. And almost instantly, festooned chains come out of his mouth.

Other jaw-dropping gimmicks include churning out iron balls, marbles, nails and even fire from the mouth. And the never-seen-before act is making puffed rice, kurmura, from rice. “Sab haath ki chalaki hai,” the brothers say when they are flooded with compliments.

The highlight of the show undoubtedly is turning their 10-year-old nephew, Nazur Khan, into a snake. Five minutes later, the snake took on a human form again and child wonder was bowing to the audience. The magicians insist that these were the same bagful of tricks their ancestors performed. They are merely carrying on with the family legacy.

Eye see
Showing off his many recommendation letters, Mohammad Khan says that unlike bigger names like P C Sarkar, who enthrall audiences on stage behind curtains, his family makes it more believable by doing everything including the hiss trick right there in front of everyone’s eyes.

Aas Mohammed Khan’s sons perform the same tricks in Kashmir and other places up north. This dehati family may look out of place in Mumbai but they kept our city slickers entertained with their desi dialect and homegrown tricks.

The Khans may not have made much money from their art, but their videos on the Internet get a lot of hits endorsing their popularity. It all began when Peter Theobald, a man with a passion for magic and photography, discovered the Khans at a convention centre in Kerala.. and turned them into crowd pullers across the world due to their web connect now.

“We are keeping a dying art alive and it requires a lot of patience and time,” says Khan. “We need all the support
we can get.”

First Published: Feb 09, 2009 19:50 IST