UPDATE: The body of Indian stuntman Chanchal Lahiri, better known by his stage name Jadugar (Wizard) Mandrake, has been found.
Lahiri was to emerge from the water and swim to shore once he freed himself from ropes and chains, but he never returned to the surface.
ORIGINAL STORY: An Indian stuntman known by his stage name, Jadugar (Wizard) Mandrake, has gone missing after he tried to conduct a Harry Houdini trick in the Hooghly river on Sunday.
Mandrake, whose real name is Chanchal Lahiri, was lowered into the West Bengali river with his legs and arms tightly tied up in ropes and chains. He was to begin freeing himself once he got below the surface of the water and swim to shore, but the 40-year-old stuntman never resurfaced, to the horror of the watching crowd.
Rescue workers have been searching the river ever since, but no trace of Lahiri has been found, Syed Waquar Raza from the river traffic police told AFP.
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“We fear he drowned in the river,” he said.
Local photographer Jayanta Shaw was a witness to Lahiri’s trick attempt. He told the BBC that he spoke to the magician before Lahiri started his trick attempt.
“I asked him why he risked his life for magic,” Shaw said. “He smiled and said: ‘If I do it right, it’s magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.'”
He said Lahiri told him he wanted “to revive interest in magic.”
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This wasn’t the first time Lahiri attempted this kind of trick — AFP reports that, in 2013, he tried it in the same river in a locked cage, but during the trick, spectators looked underwater and saw that there was a secret door in the cage, which Lahiri used to escape.
Onlookers attacked Lahiri as he emerged from the water, pulling off his trademark orange wig. In the past, Lahiri had claimed he could walk on water.
Many modern-day illusionists and magicians attempt the tricks of Houdini, who is regarded as one of the best stunt performers in human history.
Lahiri could not be officially declared dead until his body was found, reported the Hindustan Times.