Whenever a Bangladeshi thinks of anything magical, I can bet the person who they think has something to do with it is Jewel Aich. As loved as he is for his art of magic, Jewel Aich is actually much more than a magician. He came from humble beginnings and made something of himself. He was the fifth of nine children in his family. Fascinated by magic from a young age, his obsession grew after a gypsy performed magic during a visit to Jewel's family home. Shortly thereafter, he encountered a circus performing in a nearby village. For the first time, he saw a magician cut the neck of his assistant! Aich was officially hooked on magic, and so began his career as a magician. By the time Aich finished high school and went to college; his name had already spread through his district. This week, Star Showbiz shared a few spellbinding hours talking to the man, and here are the highlights of that conversation.

The village I was born in was filled with a lot of good people, many of whom were sadly forced to move out of place.  I was there during the liberation war. People were being separated for religious reasons; as a result of the Hindu-Muslim conflict. My village people were lucky because they shared a strong unity with the people from our neighboring village. Those villagers protected us and helped during the liberation war. There was so much blood. In one case, fifty thousand innocent Hindu people were killed without any particular reason. So much blood was shed people were scared and left their beloved homes to save themselves. I ran too. I spent two days and two nights in Shihanbagh. Most people could not accept the fact that many people were killed without any reason. There was some humanity left in people, Hindus from neighboring villages were invited and they were protected in some way or the other, for as long as possible. On the other hand if the Pakistani army found out that there were Hindus around, then they would kill each and every one of them. The scenario was horrifying and unforgettable. There was a Muslim league leader in our area. The man was physically disabled but I have a lot of respect for him. He used to protect us. Let's say for example, he used send a person to one of the villages to warn the people that the Pakistani Army will come to the village. I later participated in the war myself, as a Freedom Fighter. Most of my family members had left the country at the time, but I found a way to stay back and fight.

I first came to Dhaka in 1967 with the intention of getting into an art college; I have always been interested in drawing and arts from childhood. During that time I did not have any plans on how to earn my bread and butter; I always did whatever felt like doing. Despite my love for arts I did not get into an art college because my father thought it was not a safe career choice for someone from a middle class family. That made feel bad, but I must mention that my father was a very intelligent man. The radio interested me and I wanted to perform on the radio that is how I got into playing flute. To be honest I also had some interests in playing the flute since childhood.  During my college days I got a bit popular because of my abilities with the flute. Later I had the opportunity to perform on the radio. In my flute playing career I was privileged to have amazing teachers who guided me. I am grateful to Profullo Masid and his son Montu Masid of Pirojpur who taught me the basics of classical music on flute from. Both of them were talented Esraj players as well.

Magic always fascinated me, even as a child. During the autumn, I made firecrackers myself after figuring out how to make them through some research on my own. Many people from far away villages use come to watch my fireworks show. And some people even helped to make a stage for the show. People around had some faith in me that if I did something then it would not be that bad. Later I started doing some charity shows for the poor. My name started to spread and I started doing more shows around different places. Then my first show in Dhaka was on television.  Once, on a launch ride there was a well-groomed gentleman with my friends. My friends were telling me that if I can show that man a good magic trick then I might get something good out of it. Although I wasn't prepared, I figured out an instant close-up magic trick for him. That man sent me a telegram later. He had a lot of appreciation for arts and cultural things. In 1981, I was invited by the Society of American Magicians to perform.  I got in to teaching on the path. I was a storytelling teacher, you can say. During my teaching days, I continued playing the flute, kept doing magic shows on television, etc. I have been a teacher, flute player, painter and a magician throughout my life but my core focus was always on MAGIC!

Bipasha's father was the principal of my college. Like me, he was also very interested in art and culture. That is the reason he noticed me at first, way back in 1967. After the liberation war, I became acquainted with Bipasha's elder brother, I started going to their house on a regular basis and became a family friend. One day I went to her place and her mother was telling me “You just won 1 lakh taka”. I was baffled!  Then I found out that Bipasha said that if she had won a lottery of 2 lakh taka, then she would give 1 lakh to me and spend the rest 1 lakh for her father's treatment, who was very ill at the time. This was the first time I realized that she had a soft corner for me. I did not question her intention, and after a long time we both were in love. We informed our family members a few months before the wedding that we wanted to get married. Bipasha's family had objections due to religious reasons but we went forward with the marriage. My mother was always okay with it, and, after some time, Bipasha's family accepted our marriage as well.

Humayun bhai was a person who did whatever he thought was right. I must admit he was very knowledgeable yet he pretended that he did not understand anything. Whenever his friends were about say something deep or philosophical he would somehow get out of that conversation or leave that place. I guess his intellect was superior compared to his friends but he was a humble man. I have always known him to work really hard and he was very well read.  As a friend he was amazing, he kept his sorrow with himself and shared his joy with his friends.

Catch the uncut version of Showbiz's Cover Interview and more on Radio Shadhin 92.4 FM Every Saturday, 11 PM onwards.

Interviewed by Rafi Hossain and Narrated by Rayan Quddus


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