Amol Mendadkar

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                                       [[Phantom On The Stage]]

“The show was going on. All were sitting down and watching the show. Everyone was stunned by the scene happening on the stage. Darkened theatre was scarring the hell out of every other person.

There were two people carrying the show, Phalke and Nicephore Niepce, the identifier of great Chemistry and Mechanics. I had heard a lot about them. The two people from different out-caste had met to the horizon where no other level is. There was tremendous darkness in the theatre where public were sitting for their entertainment.

As I know at that time, they were enough popular figures in the north and central India. Their specialty was to play the tricks with the slides. I was one of the magicians who were going to perform on the stage. But don’t know what made me think that there is something on stage.

I knew that, there is no need of any other magicians show. I preparing out my tricks. But they kept their cool, cause they were much more confident about their work.

The shows were arranged so that, their show will be the most surprising part of that event. Every participant was doing their best to achieve the success more than the others. I did my best performance. But the thing was, I was waiting for their performance as they were going to be out standing.

Now, the time had come. The show started. They came on stage. The theatre was so quite that, a dropped needle could be heard. Everyone was staring at the stage, looking at the magic.

There was a large mirror in a carved frame on the stage. I wasn’t getting them what they were about to do. Then Phalke was invited on the stage. He waved his hands all over. He was then asked to walk around the mirror and examined it to his satisfaction. All acting as if knew nothing at all.

Niepce was the main magician. Phalke was just his assistant. But was explained the trick. He was then asked to don a hooded red robe. The magic started. Lights focused towards them. Banjo masters were playing the Death music. It was as if the Devil himself playing his Knell with his fellow members. This actually chilled the spines of everyone sitting in the auditorium. This kept all the spectators on the edge of their seat eagerly waiting to know more.

Phalke was then obeying the every order of his master, Niepce. Nipece positioned Phalke at some ten feet from the mirror. A red colored light was then reflected on that mirror. The vivid red reflection was clearly visible to the on-lookers.

The theatre was darkened so that, only a brightening light that comes from the mirror itself could be seen. Phalke was robed from neck to the tip of feet.

Now he was told to wave his robed arms around. And to bow in front of his bowing reflection. Public saw something different between Phalke’s action and his reflection. As everybody knows that, person and reflection always behave in the exact manner, and this is the principle which mirror obeys. But on the stage, Phalke’s reflection was showing the signs of disobedience.

The crossed it’s arms over its chest and started waving them about. Reflection was almost behaving oddly. The actions and reactions were the different things for that period of time and suddenly………………..

The reflection grimaced. In spite of Phalke being bare handed the reflection seemed to be stabbed itself with a totally mysterious knife. Just then to the on-lookers astonishment, the reflection seemed to fall dead and Phalke didn’t seem to budge-off his feet. His red robed reflection fell down cold-blue.

Now a ghost-like white thing or form rose from that dead reflection and hovered in the mirror. Everybody was watching that breath taking moment. The pearls of perspiration running down their foreheads were the obvious proofs of the fright in their chilled spines!!!

All at once, the ghost emerged from the glass. And a hell-like scream appeared in the people at one instant. It looked towards the startled, terrified spectators.

The master full illusion mystified even the professional magicians like me; who agree only that, the mirror was a trick cabinet with black lined doors in the rear and an assistant hidden inside. Actually, I knew that trick when I just asked Phalke about it. He told each and every step, my brain had agreed but my mind wasn’t agreeing the result of it.

The tricky part was the lights. They were probably concealed between the glass and the lightly silvered black. As the lights grew brighter; the mirror grew transparent and a red robed assistant showed himself in the glass.

The ghost was the only thing; he didn’t tell me. And even the most difficult to explain, despite of a big tradition of stage-ghosts.

I was familiar with the concealed magic lanterns produced the Phantom; but in spite of these, I wasn’t able to imitate the effect. They were best at their work. I was just enjoying the flight of their magic; but couldn’t say anything, because I was already tongue tied amazed by their work.

Even in these early years, there was something uncanny about the illusions that they created. There was a story that had been told been told; Nicephore was not a Showman at all, but had sold his soul to the Devil in return for the wholly powers. Some said that this is the reason which made him the magician of Death and Unholy things.

This was the situation which made me think that magic can make any thing but the main revelation is SCIENCE.

This was the story and relation between Nicephore Niepce and Phalke. As the GURU and his disciple traveled across the country, Nicephore made him paint the backdrops with his Chemical jugglery.”

By:- Amol Mendadkar.

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