With the top hat, ’tache and three-piece, Gopinath Muthukad almost looks straight out of a Lee Falk comic panel. Almost. “Sorry, I didn’t bring my cape,” Kerala’s most famous contemporary magician says. The late-noon throng of school kids doesn’t care. As the meme goes, not all heroes wear one. And, anyway, Muthukad is more David Copperfield than Mandrake. Like the illusionist icon, he operates in the gulf between science and superstition. His currency: vismayam. Wonder.
Right now, he’s operating on two hours of sleep and as many cuppas. The showman’s ease fine-tuned over a decades-long career—some 8,000 stages in over 50 countries—barely masks the toll of a red-eye flight. But the show must go on. And today’s was especially important—both as culmination and vindication of six months of work and years more of planning. Students of Muthukad’s Different Art Centre—a project to nurture the talents (magical and otherwise) of differently-abled children—have just put up a spirited, non-stop, hour-long magic performance.