Venkatesh N. Alagarsamy is a magician who besides performing, also runs a magic school and a shop that stocks the props of his trade
His shop is filled with pens and pencils, pliers and screw drivers but it is neither a stationery nor a hardware store. These are all everyday, commonplace objects, but they are used for something entirely different! Welcome to Venkatesh N. Alagarsamy’s world of magic.
It is a shop that sells magic-related instrument. “It is my childhood dream,” says Alagarsamy. “Though I knew there was no big money in this venture, I am doing it for satisfaction. There are around 150 magicians in Tamil Nadu and of them only 60 are professionals. Others are pursue it as a hobby. Most of them are price-conscious and I have to price my products low enough to retain my customer base. Not many realise the fact that we are selling not only the instrument but also the secrets along with it,” he says. The shop is called the Franklyn Park Innovations, and is one of the biggest shops in Tamil Nadu. The name comes from a county in Ireland. “There is a reason for that name. I earned name and fame only after I performed in Ireland. I was working as an entertainer on a US-based cruise liner for couple of years. Then I moved to Ireland where I got the freedom to express myself better. I was also able to clear my financial problems with the money I earned over there,” he says.
Alagarsamy has more than 3500 items purchased from all over the country. “Of which 131 are my own products,” says Alagarsamy. “I manufacture these items at home without any assistance. Since most of my items are chemical based and deal with fire, I don’t stock them. I produce them only when I get orders,” he says.
Alagarsamy was drawn into the world of magic after he saw his grandfather perform tricks. “I was fascinated by his performance. Though he knew only few tricks, he was able to impress people with his perfect execution. He was a policeman and he did not take magic very seriously. But I wanted to continue the legacy. When I was at a crossroads after my studies, I decided to take magic as my career. For, this is the only profession that does not need much investment.”
But, with no learning materials available in open market, he had to run from pillar to post to learn techniques from experts. “It was cumbersome. If locating a specialist in a particular trick was tough, convincing him to accept me as his student was even more difficult. I had to shell out a lot of money. Over the years I learnt the nuances of the art from more than 60 experts in this field. I also learnt that one did not need any big apparatus to perform magic,” says Alagarsamy.
He also realised that magicians here were handicapped as most of the magic books were written by authors from western countries. “I tried to simplify all the complicated tricks. For instance, in the dove magic, which is considered to be crown of any magic performance, it is important to keep the dove alive. There are specific techniques to load the dove inside your robe. In hot weather conditions the dove finds it difficult to breathe when packed in traditional bag. I have specially designed a pouch to pack the dove safely so that it stays alive for a longer duration,” he says.
“I perform a minimum of 15 to 20 tricks in a matter of 15 minutes,” says Alagarsamy, who also runs a school to teach magic. He takes lessons for both the young and the old. “Interest matters more than anything else. I first teach beginners some basic science to gauge their interest in the art. Only then do I decide what I can teach them next,” he says.
Alagarsamy has delivered lectures on magic and has also dealt in detail with the most common failures while performing on stage. Now he is penning down all his experiences in a book that he plans to release soon.