Magic monarchs

Magic monarchs

Weekends for them are the busiest of all. So a Sunday morning in Madarivasti will be about packing bags with yellow and red satin rumaals...

The two-acre shantytown in Koregaon Park has been the abode of generations of magicians for over a century now

Weekends for them are the busiest of all. So a Sunday morning in Madarivasti will be about packing bags with yellow and red satin rumaals,a copper wire decorated with feathers,an eye catchy box and above all the red satin jadugar dress. It is the day when the men of 300 families in Madarivasti set out to perform various shows in different events in the city.

Flanked by high-end apartments,the stretch of the two-acre land just at the end of Lane 7 in Koregaon Park,with its tattered tin shed roofs and dingy interiors has always been tagged as the bald patch of an incongruous setting. But magically the popularity of this almost non existent corner of the posh locality remains intact. And despite the fact that glitzy restaurants and high-end apartments today surround this shantytown none have been able to dwarf its existence. In fact amusingly enough many of the invites to events at apartments and restaurants give their address as Opposite Madarivasti.

When the place has been providing the city folks with a horde of entertainers for over a century now,Madarivasti definitely carves a niche of its own amongst the high-rise buildings in the area. The one lakh square feet stretch has a history that dates back to 1870s when the a small community of Muslim landowners who were ousted from their lands settled in the area.


“We are the followers of Saiyaad Imam Shapir of Zizori. He was the one who taught us the tricks of magic and since then it has been our profession,” says Akram Ali Ramzaan Madari,head Madarivasti.The community since then has adopted the name Madari. Today it is the word that defines their existence. The community also has a language of its own which derives words from Marathi,Gujrati,Urdu and several other languages.

The talent which is passed from one generation to another has been the bread and butter of the 300 families that dwell in houses madeof corrugated metals and sheets of plastic. “Since the day our community is formed the son of every family in the vasti learns magic and even today we continue this ritual,” says Maksood Ali whose 7 – year – old accompanies him on all the events he is invited to for a performance.

“We are invited to birthday parties,multiplexes,malls,hotels and resorts for performances. Ours is the only vasti that has been raising generations of magicians,”says Kadeer Nizamuddin who apart from performing at events also does street shows.

The century old vasti that has witnessed the birth of the high end locality surrounding the colony feels the pangs of no – progress efforts in the area. “ We have seen the rapid development of the areas around us. Compared to that we have not received anything,” says Ali.

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