Indian 'Houdini' Chanchal Lahiri dies during botched underwater magic act

The body of a famous Indian magician was found in the Hooghly River in Kolkata one day after he attempted to recreate one of late icon Harry Houdini's most famous stunts.

Chanchal Lahiri, who goes by the stage name of "Jadugar Mandrake" or "Wizard Mandrake," was found dead near the Howrah Bridge late Monday evening, Kolkata police official Syed Waquar Raza confirmed to the AFP. 

On Sunday, Lahiri had his legs and arms bound with ropes and chains before being lowered into the large body of water by crane, mimicking Houdini's underwater box escape act, which was declared "one of the most remarkable tricks ever performed" by Scientific American magazine in 1912.

The 40-year-old showman, who was wearing an eye-catching yellow and red costume while attempting the dangerous stunt, would have typically broken free of the restraints quickly and emerge from the water, photographer and eyewitness Jayanta Shaw told CNN International

Photos from the scene: 

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Indian 'Houdini' Chanchal Lahiri dies during botched underwater magic trick
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Indian 'Houdini' Chanchal Lahiri dies during botched underwater magic trick
In this photo taken on June 16, 2019 Indian stuntman Chanchal Lahiri, known by his stage name "Jadugar Mandrake", is prepared for being lowered into the Ganges river, while tied up with steel chains and ropes, in Kolkata. - An Indian magician who went missing after being lowered into a river tied up in chains and ropes in a Houdini-inspired stunt is feared drowned, police said June 17. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Chanchal Lahiri, a magician, sits on a boat before performing one of his tricks in the Hooghly river in Kolkata, India, June 16, 2019. Picture taken June 16, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
In this photo taken on June 16, 2019 Indian stuntman Chanchal Lahiri, known by his stage name "Jadugar Mandrake", is lowered into the Ganges river, while tied up with steel chains and ropes, in Kolkata. - An Indian magician who went missing after being lowered into a river tied up in chains and ropes in a Houdini-inspired stunt is feared drowned, police said June 17. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Silhouette of Howrah Bridge at the time of Sunrise. Howrah Bridge is a bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River in West Bengal.
Caged Indian escape artist Chanchal Lahiri waves to the crowd before being lowered into the Hooghly river from Calcutta's Howrah Bridge February 24, 2002. Lahiri escaped from the locked cage about 15 seconds after it was submerged. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw JS/JD
Caged Indian escape artist Chanchal Lahiri is lowered into the Hooghly river from Calcutta's Howrah Bridge February 24, 2002. Lahiri escaped from the locked cage about 15 seconds after it was submerged. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw JS/JD
Handcuffed magician Chanchal Lahiri is being lowered into the river Hooghly in a glass cage box, bolted with 36 locks, from the famous Howrah Bridge in eastern Indian city of Calcutta April 26. Lahiri popped up from the river half a minute later without the handcuffs after he was dropped into the river from the bridge. He is raising funds for thalassemia patients. Thalassemia is inherited form of anemia occurring chiefly among people of Mediterranean descent, caused by faulty synthesis of part of the hemoglobin molecule.
Handcuffed magician Chanchal Lahiri is being lowered into the river Hooghly in a glass cage box, bolted with 36 locks, from the famous Howrah Bridge in eastern Indian city of Calcutta April 26. Lahiri popped up from the river half a minute later without the handcuffs after he was dropped into the river from the bridge. He is raising funds for thalassemia patients. Thalassemia is inherited form of anemia occurring chiefly among people of Mediterranean descent, caused by faulty synthesis of part of the hemoglobin molecule. REUTERS
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However, when Lahiri failed to resurface, Shaw said onlookers, including Lahiri's family and team members, began to panic, prompting authorities to begin a day-long search for the missing magician through the river's murky waters. 

Lahiri had successfully attempted a similar stunt 21 years ago, in which, in an interview with AFP, he recalled he was placed inside a bulletproof glass box tied with chain and locks and dropped down from Howrah bridge into the same river where he would tragically die two decades later. 

"Then I came out within 29 seconds," he told the news agency shortly before his failed second attempt.

The magician had previously stated he wanted to pull off the daredevil stunt in order to revive the public's interest in magic, which he saw as a dying art. 

"If I can open it up then it will be magic," he said. "But if I can't it will be tragic."

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