(Image: Painted advertisement for Jadugar Anand magic show in Kottayam, Kerala, in mid-2005.)

In Kerala, a small state in the south of India perhaps best known for being the first region in which a communist government was democratically elected, a storm is brewing. But not over political machinations: no, the latest kerfuffle has erupted over an actor’s plan to put on a “fire escape act.” Three hundred magicians from the state have signed a petition urging Mohanlal to reconsider performing the stunt, in which he would be “chained and lowered upside-down in a metal box using a crane into a big haystack, which would be set afire.”

According to the Indian Express, “The magicians who held a press conference [in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala] on Monday said the actor is just not trained enough to perform this act, and alleged that his trainer, Muthukad, was himself burnt when he had tried the act in Bahrain sometime back.”