Jadugar Anand says is an honest magician and that fraudster magicians and swamis who perform ‘miracles' should be exposed

At a time when there are hundreds of television shows on magic in varied forms, Jadugar Anand still manages to hold forth with his live magic performances. Anand performed for city residents at Town Hall last month.

Jadugar Anand has performed in over 30 countries and is a holder of three International world records. He has been compared with Houdini and P.C. Sircar. Anand's talent has not dimmed his desire to achieve greater heights. He has honed his skills as a magician for years. Despite facing opposition from his family, Anand was determined to pursue magic professionally. “It was my destiny. I have no regrets.” He considers magic an art. But quiz him on street and television magic, and the usually calm Anand looks perturbed: “They aren't genuine magicians. Camera tricks are used to enhance magic on television. The audience who attend those magic shows are paid. Their reactions are well trained. There are no chances of a retake in a live performance. I am an honest magician.”

Anand is against Swamis who perform ‘miracles'. “They are fraudsters. They should be exposed,” he is emphatic. There are several television shows that unravel the method behind magic. “Those shows aren't 100 per cent accurate. Different magicians use different methods. One cannot narrow it down to just one method. And no magician will ever reveal his methods,” Anand laughs.

Magic in the West is different from India. “There is a difference in presentation. Scientific methods are used in the West. In India, we create optical or psychic illusions.”

Magic first began in India 5,000 years ago — Anand shakes his head and says: “That's a misconception. It's impossible to claim that magic originated specifically from India. “Magi” is a Latin word which means “wise men from the East”. India, China and Egypt have had a long tradition of magic.” He also agrees with the claim that magic was once used to cure ailments. “Dr. Mesmer — from whose name the word ‘mesmerism' — has been derived, said that magic had evolved to solve human problems.”

Anand doesn't agree that magic has lost out to television and other form of entertainment. “Human beings will always be attracted to magic. Magic defies the laws of nature. And who doesn't want to see a break in monotony?” A slight pause later, he breaks into an archetypal magician's laugh and says: “But people would watch a cricket world cup match over a magic show!”. I think Harry Potter suddenly. The series, needless to say, has captured the imagination of children all over the world. But Anand has only this to say: “Those books are on witchcraft and wizardry, not on magic for entertainment.”

Money, fame and fortune are irrelevant for Anand. The magic of magic, to him, is his ability “to hold an audience in a trance-like state for over three hours, and take them away to a land far removed from their lives riddled with problems.”

I realise, long after we had said goodbye to each other, that Anand, despite my many questions, did not even offer a peek into the secret behind his magic. What about all those animal right activists who went up in arms when he used an elephant for a show? Magic, after all, deals with real things.