The Philosophy

The Art

Amar Sen and HandShadowGraphy

Academy of Magical Arts and Research



A blank, white screen; a light source, a couple of hands, including ten fingers:

Nurtured only by a handful of individuals around the world, Hand Shadowgraphy is a rare art form where shadow images are created with bare hands only. Imagine the amazing evolution of the docile, practical, mundane shadow into a creative component of fiction and documentation, complemented by music and sound effects. It is an art form which has immense possibilities and can be applied in different fields. Innovation is the buzzword here.

Quoted from:


HSG male profileThe Philosophy:

To us humans, the right mix of passion, the urge to create and intellect are the ingredients of an art; but every art requires with it a set of tools which we have to acquire and learn to control and then use our thought to create. HandShadowGraphy is an art where the tools are ones that we’ve owned and learnt to control from our birth – our hands.

Technology has given us many new audiovisual media, which have enhanced our lives to a great extent but have also made us dependant of technology. Instead of being an add-on to our artistry, it is fast becoming the sole mode of expression. The next generation faces the stigma of losing the essence of a pure and simple presentation devoid of heavy electronic and artificial overtones; one which stimulates the imagination, much like a book does. The set of values we pass on; should they lack the inherent urge to convey using our own selves? HandShadowGraphy is an effort to generate that eternal human feeling in an art and the presentation of which lacks none of the glitz of any medium.


The Art:HSG female profile

The mention of this form of art (using the shadows of the hands and body to depict other objects) can be found in ancient Chinese texts (A king arranged to have Shadowgraphy shows to entertain his sick queen). Till a decade ago this used to be regarded as an offshoot part of magical performances. The work of a handful of artists (with major contribution from Amar –Sabyasachi) has had a profound impact on the position of this art and now it is recognized as an independent medium of artistic and communicative expression. While the works of other non-Asian Indians like Mr. Prasanna Rao, Mr. Babloo Mallick and Mr. Sati Achath are notable but in the realm of exclusive HandShadowGraphy (especially without props), the advances made by Amar Sen and his Partner are huge, pushing the art to unbelievable new heights, the introduction of actual personality likenesses (with human profiles of anatomical similarity) and total cinematic shadow presentations complete with soundtracks and storyboards was introduced and refined by Amar Sen. It has been used in augmentation with films and presentations to have an unique impact on the audience. It has also been used by the Government of India for a number of documentaries some of which are part of a permanent presentation at the Town Hall of Calcutta. This art has been a staple of the Moulin Rouge – Paris. But against all the success and fame of HandShadowGraphy, there has been no spread of this art with all its potentials, a few feeble attempts have been made to pass this off as another rainy day activity but the current potential of this art as a new, unique and novel medium of expression has been untapped and the art at its peak is all set to die if no more practitioners of this art is created. It is a must that a way of expression requiring nothing but a light, hands and a surface to convey an idea in a flash be taught and kept alive. It is one of the rare arts that are completely human and so simple that a child can perform and a sexagenarian can be intrigued at the content of the performance.


HSG male profileAmar Sen and HandShadowGraphy:

Interest in Shadowgraphy was sparked by some hand shadow pictures on the back of a magic book in the late 60's; later he took to the art and started to cultivate HSG, inspired by best friend and fellow magician Sabyasachi Sen. They developed the art and practiced, sometimes together, for a long 16 years before coming to the public for their first screening in 1988. Amar was the creator and Sabyasachi, the preserver and critic. They performed individually and collaborated with each other to receive rave reviews. Invitations poured in from all over the country. Then was the first international show at Muscat – Oman (1997) who invited them again at 1999, from then to the recent trip to USA, where the Governor of Maryland presented the Governor’s Citation. He authored a series of illustrated lessons of HSG in a leading daily. He has presented the art in numerous forms for cinema, as a casting aid (Prem Jowarey, [1991]) and as itself (Swapner Din, [2004] ), and corporate presentations (ADGAS, TESCO HSC). He has provided in expertise to various print ads (for JWT) At this stage of his career, after countless shows, reviews, TV interviews and workshops later; the experience gathered through these years is invaluable.


HSG male profileAcademy of Magical Arts and Research

For the first time in history, HandShadowGraphy is being taught at Amar Sen's own academy. With 4 courses from beginner to professional levels - the art is finally starting to create its serious practitioners. For more information, contact Amar Sen.



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