Magic of Kathputli
Ishamudin Khan (40) shows a DVD record of a Japan television show in which magicians from all around the world perform their best tricks. He let the small boy disappear and then appear again. We are sitting in his simple house in New Delhi, India, in poor, dirty slum Kathputli. This place is home of puppeters, magicians, acrobats, musicians, jugglers, story tellers, many of them are famous in the whole India or abroad, in Europe, USA, Japan, Dubai, Australia. During their tours they meet politicians and celebrities and sleep in five star hotels but at home they live in the poor slum without running water, electricity or sanitation. They come back from festivals and tours where hundreds of people applauded them – to small dark houses even without windows and with open sewage canal in front of it. Ishamudin Khan is one of the best magicians of the world. He was the first who performed a famous trick from old Indian stories with an erected rope. He is a TV star in several countries but at home, in India, nobody recognises him as a performer of traditional art. He is just slum dweller.
Now, new investors came to Delhi to build modern buildings in a place of Kathputli Colony. Artists don´t know what will happen with them in the future.
„When I made the robe trick for the first time, I was happy,“ Ishamudin explains. „I, poor man from a dirty slum, achieved something big. I thought that good times are coming and if I will work hard lot of things will come. Now, fifteen years after, nothing changed. I am just a poor man from dirty slum, belonging to the caste of untouchables. The most important thing for me is to give good education to my children.“ Ishamudin´s daughter Jasmin is a first person from Kathputli attending eleventh class. What´s the reason why another children don´t continue in their education? Their parents, remembering their own childhood when they travelled with their parents as strollers don´t consider education very important. Why? In Indian society their place as members of untouchable caste is very strictly defined. Even if somebody has money he wouldn´t want to leave the slum and move to better area. He knows that his new neighbours would never accept him.
Magicians and street performers live in poor conditions and they don´t know what will happen when developers will come. But their fight is not about new sanitation in their slum; they are able to earn their money by performing. First of all they want recognition as performers of the traditional Indian art and as part of cultural heritage of India.
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