Hand-shadowgraphy creates magic

Added On April 20, 2017

Hand-shadowgraphy is a rare art-form where shadow-images are created with hands.

Today, the art is being nurtured by a handful across the globe.

One of them is India's Amar Sen who is trying to revive and establish this old Chinese art-form with his own unique style.

Let's take a look.

From the most visited statue of "Christ the Redeemer"  to Russia's iconic Saint Basil Cathedral. From one of the world's seven wonders "Taj Mahal" to the only visible human-structure from space - the "Great Wall of China", the world is re-created with the magic of fingers.

This little-known art of hand-shadowgraphy is taking new strides in India, these days.

And the credit for this goes to the creator of BRICS' introductory film - Amar Sen and his magical fingers.    
SOUNDBITE(ENG): AMAR SEN, Hand-shadowgrapher
"So many people...they are watching this particular television performance all over the world, I can tell you whenever I am doing this...one-two, one-two...it is very easy, you can do in front of the set also. one-two, one-two...that's also very easy but whenever I will say that you have to do one-two, one-two...whenever you are doing it, it is difficult. Then our hands are telling us that you are not the sole authority of your total nervous system. So therefore actually the dexteriority is not coming. It's not like painting. It's not like a dance. It's a combination just like a pianist does with their left hand and right hand...and (with) combination, they are creating the magic. It is something different from that also as because the pianists doesn't need the dimensions. But we have to create with three dimensions...just the two dimensional world...that's hand-shadowgraphy."

The 67-year old Amar Sen began his journey over four decades ago, thanks to an act of fate.

During a power-cut in an evening in Kolkata, Sen was sitting with his friend Sabyasachi Sen. He created a shadow of duck, and his friend mimicked the sound.

It was a eureka moment, and they never looked back.

The duo performed dozens of stage-shows around the world together until Sabyasachi Sen's death last year.

Sen is completely self-taught, and has never taken a lesson in this art.

However, he has spent a lot of time studying the anatomy, including hours at the zoo where he used to spent hours watching the movement of animals.

His hard-work continues till date when he practices the art at home, nearly everyday.

Innovation and perfection, Sen says is something which is utterly required for rear-projection hand-shadowgraphy, especially in creating shadows of celebrities...a style which Amar Sen has mastered in.    
"Wow...that's my double-shadow...and this magic is created by none other than...the maestro - Amar Sen. Behind the screen with me is Amar Sen himself who has invested his entire life in promoting this hand-shadowgraphy art. But still, he has not found his one follower who will take this legacy forward. His search, he says is still on."

Taking the art a step forward is his son Arko Sen who infused technology and pioneered computer layering technique into this art.

The father-son duo has to his credit some of the finest and much talked about commercials in recent times, like a tourism advertisement for the province of Madhya Pradesh.

Sen is one of a few left across the globe who know the intricate mystique of shadows.

With the number dwindling, he is now calling on more young artists to take up the profession.

SOUNDBITE(ENG): AMAR SEN, Hand-shadowgrapher
"I want everybody...those who are nurturing hand-shadowgraphical art, they just (need to) come out and they have to make a forum all over the world. They can contact me even with my website. They can contact me...I know my students in the whole world, there are at least 10-15 students. I will have those talented persons and they are very much interested about this particular art....My motto is to catch them young because so far the flexibility of your finger (is concerned), it's coming in the younger age. But when you are 47 year old, then your fingers will not bend according to your will. So you have to practice from your younger age. And I got some of the people (as students) but they didn't continue it as they were in a dilemma whether money will come out of it or not. So it's a pitiable affair, I can say.删除"

Shadowgraphy is thought to have its origin in China during Song dynasty.

Legend has it that a Song dynasty king entertained his ill wife by creating hand-shadows.