Bengal’s Chanchal Sarkar drew inspiration from Harry Houdini to “escape” from shackles underwater, a trick that made the Hungarian-born American illusionist an icon in the 20th century. Sarkar, 42, a lesser-known magician who lived at Sonarpur in the southern fringes of Kolkata and had adopted the stage name Mandrake, succeeded in his acts many times till fate caught up with him on Sunday afternoon.At 12.30 pm, Sarkar jumped into the Hooghly river from a ferry anchored below the Howrah bridge. Spectators, who had gathered on the bridge for the show, did not see him surface and informed the police. “We have searched the area extensively but neither Sarkar nor his body could be found,” an officer of the North Port police station said on Sunday evening. Sarkar, the officer said on condition of anonymity, could not be declared dead till the body was found. “I have known Sarkar for many years. He painfully put together a few acts and performed in other states as well. This is really sad,” said magician Prince Sil, a well-known name in the community for his ‘bullet-catching” act.The Hooghly river was Sarkar’s stage for most of the acts and he also landed in trouble a few times. In 2013, some spectators harassed him saying they saw him escape through a secret trap-door built into a steel cage (another act inspired by Houdini) after it was lowered into the water. A few years before that, Sarkar made an unsuccessful attempt to walk on the river. “He kept trying new things,” Sil said.