Magician attempting famous Houdini-style stunt drowns in river in India

The body of an Indian magician who was attempting to recreate a famous trick by the legendary illusionist Harry Houdini died Sunday after he was lowered into a river in West Bengal state, according to media reports.

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Chanchal Lahiri, also known as Mandrake, was shackled with six locks and chains around his body and lowered into the Hooghly River from a boat as crowds of spectators on shore and in boats watched, according to the BBC.

When he didn’t resurface within 10 minutes, police were called in to search for him.

Lahiri’s body was identified late Monday, washed ashore near the site of his Houdini trick.

A local newspaper photographer told the BBC that he spoke with Lahiri before the stunt.

“I asked him why he risked his life for magic,” Jayanta Shaw said. “He [Lahiri] smiled and said, ‘If I do it right, it's magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.’”

Lahiri also said he wanted to do the trick to “revive interest in magic.”

Lahiri did a similar trick 20 years ago when he was lowered into the same river in a glass box, the Press Trust of India reported. He successfully escaped that time.

Shaw said he witnessed that stunt, too, according to the BBC.

"I never thought he would not come out of the water this time," he said.

Houdini performed a number of death-defying stunts, including escaping from ropes, chains, straitjackets and handcuffs while submerged in packing crates, wooden boxes and other vessels.

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