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New Delhi's Last Magicians Colony

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Atlas Obscura is driven by a community of likeminded people, inspired by curiosity, and imbued with a feeling that the world is undiscovered, full of whimsical, wondrous places. Every once in awhile, in our ongoing pursuit of strange and amazing places, people and stories, we come across something that truly inspires us. One such find is a film entitled Tomorrow We Disappear.

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Photograph By Joshua Cogan

Produced by Jim Goldblum, Adam Weber, and Joshua Cogan, Tomorrow We Disappear explores the untold and remarkable story of New Delhi's last magicians' colony.

According to the filmmakers, "For hundreds of years roaming artists traveled the Indian countryside, creating the stories, the mythological backbone that would unite a country. Before radio, film, and television, these artists helped form what we now call the Web of India.... In the 1950s the artists ended their itinerant routes and moved into vacant land beside a jungle in West Delhi. They called their new home the Kathputli Colony."

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Photograph By Joshua Cogan

Since then, New Delhi's magicians, puppeteers, and acrobats have called the slum, the Kathputli Colony, their home.

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Photograph By Joshua Cogan

But amidst the squalor is a remarkable tale of slum dwellers who have lived lives of the lowest degradation and of the highest luxury. Perplexing as it may sound, the Indian government bandies the community's greatest puppeteers and magicians around the world anytime they needs to showcase the cultural excellence of India. As the filmmakers tell us, "you'll sit in someone's ramshackle home and watch as they flip through photo albums where they are pictured alongside [former Prime Minister] Rajeev Gandhi or Laura Bush."

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Photograph By Joshua Cogan

In an ironic and tragic twist of fate though, the colony will be dismantled. Last year the government issued relocation permits to the colony residents; the slum is to be bulldozed and cleared for the development of a shopping mall. As the residents are relocated and their lives changed forever, the film ventures to ask if their culture will be lost to the passage of time or will it endure?

The directors are raising funds for this audacious endeavor through Kickstarter in an effort to continue the project and document the uncertain future of the people of Kathputli.

We implore you to join us in support of this beautiful and inspiring feat of filmmaking.

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