Magic is a fascinating art that also entertains. But for Bhavjoth Singh Anand, it is his life.
Twenty-two year-old Bhavjoth Singh Anand has had a magical journey so far but not one that featured fairy godmothers and enchanted side-kicks and definitely no walks on the rainbow. Fascinated by magic since he was 12, this Chennai boy decided to follow his heart and not society’s definitions of a normal life.
Realising a dream
“I was very curious. I used to watch the magic shows on TV and always wonder how they were performed. I would watch the trick again and again until I got a fair idea of how it was done and figure out a way to pull the trick,” says Bhavjoth of his baby steps in magic. Though it remained just a fascination, he realised its full potential when he performed a trick for a kid on the road. He was still in school. “Magic transcends age, sex and even language to entertain and excite just about anybody. That’s when I knew this is what I want to do!”
There are many genres of “magic” — close-ups, stage, mentalism, escapes, endurance, street, hypnosis, illusions… — and he can do them all! “Initially, I used to read for about magic for close to 10 hours and practise for six. I wanted it that bad!”
Once, he went up to his mom, put a pin in his mouth and took it out of his eye, his parents obviously freaked out and worried about his passion. But they didn’t stop him either. “Magic, to me, is like how someone you really love is to you. I have been through highs and lows with it. The two years after I dropped out of college and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, magic — a pack of cards — was my only companion,” his passion and earnestness is evident in his voice.
Obviously, many were ready to criticise. “I was asked how I even thought I could become a magician in India. There’s no future in it, I was told. The commonest refrain was: no degree; no success.” Just to prove a point, Bhavjoth dropped out of college right before his final year semester exams, for which he blames his disorientation with the education system and society’s narrow outlook.
The two years following this decision were one of the most testing times in his life. It was when he figured out his life, so much so that he drew a plan for the next 20 years including the two world record attempts that he now holds. The first was a one-minute stunt where 184 tube lights were broken on his stomach and a 30-second attempt where concrete blocks were smashed against his torso as he lay on a bed of nails.
“My tricks and illusions tend to lean on the darker side. That’s my style. The two record attempts are a part of my ‘Five minutes of Pain’ concept where I attempt different painful stunts and set records. I am aiming at a total of seven world records in a span of two years,” reveals this illusionist or “insanitarian” as he prefers to call himself.
A regular performer during his school and college days, Bhavjoth gave up performing to concentrate on mastering more illusions, working on concepts and setting up his own production house. Interestingly, his production house will generate content — films, ads, clips — that will convey information using illusion/magic; a way to make magic grow on people subtly. Bhavjoth and his manager Chidambaram are currently in Mumbai shooting for his company; The BlackInsanity’s first film that will focus on psychics. “Our first project is not intended for commercial use but more to announce our arrival in the magic scene and also create some awareness.”
Magic in India, he says, has lost its charm. “As a fan of magic, I do not like what I see on stage. No one cares about it any more and we are still stuck doing the same routines while the rest of the world is much ahead. We simply have stopped evolving and I would like to change that.”
Bhavjoth has refused many offers to do shows on TV because he feels that people might lose interest after a while. “That is why it is important for me to travel across India and build a fan base for myself and then start my own TV show,” he says hinting at his future plans.
Nursing a dream to become the best illusionist in the world, Bhavjoth realises that it will be quite some time before he sees money coming. He has so far managed with some support from his parents, sponsors and investors. “For the last two weeks I have been working continuously for 18 hours a day, with no sleep and one meal in two days, but I am able to do it because I am now living my dream.”