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Magical moments with Shado

A talented magician, Shado has the city under his spell

ABRACADABRA Enter the magic-filled world of Shado Photo: Satish H.

Gajula Kalyan Prasad was just another automobile engineering graduate. Perhaps with a difference, and a few diplomas in cinematography, English literature and French, and maybe a few best actor/ director awards to his credit as a student.

This was till he got on to the stage as `Shado' on February 23, 1980 (incidentally the birthday of P.C. Sorcar Sr., and International Magicians' Day) to give his first magic show.

A self-taught artiste, the master magician was "inspired by a show by Sorcar Sr., at Ravindra Bharati, ages ago"... Where a decision was made and a magician who would make the State proud was born.

Silver jubilee

And then, for 25 years, there was no looking back. That it is no mean achievement was proved by the star-studded silver jubilee function held recently to celebrate the momentous occasion, which had P.C. Sorcar Jr. blocking the day in Shado's name.

Sitting in his modest house tucked in a by-lane of Sitaphalmandi, the `Andhra Sorcar' speaks cherishingly of the many firsts to his credit... A blindfolded drive on the dangerous Tirumala ghat road in 1985; a straightjacket escape ("during the World War II, a straightjacket was used to keep the mentally deranged people captive, making their movement impossible") in front of Charminar watched eagerly by 2,00,000 awed spectators in 1986 — both first-of-its-kind feats by an Indian; a non-stop 10-hour magic show in 1990; a unique two-hour programme on the evolution of magic titled Maya Bazar; and a mysterious creation synthesising magic, mime, dance, music, ventriloquism, and fire arts, called Maayaa Manjusha.

And behind all this success is his encouraging wife, two sons (who are following in their dad's footsteps) and a commitment. Shado has an interesting logic behind his re-christening — "magic is a world of suspense... let the element begin with my name," he says.

An ardent admirer of P.C. Sorcar Jr., he believes in "group shows, which comprise 18-22 assistants, psychedelic lights, glittering costumes, and a four-tonne capacity equipment to make the show stylish, and interesting."

Tricks of the trade

"In magic, the presentation, and not just the trick, is important. Which is why Sorcar — with his inimitable style and unique staging — is so popular. Plus, the target audience has to be kept in mind — you cannot do a chocolate/ bouquet trick (which is usually done for children) for a gathering of police officials — you have to think of props like hand cuffs or something that interests them," says the Jadoo Samrat who believes that the costume is equally vital in a show.

To create an optical illusion, there has to be a distance of at least 15 feet but Shado proves that his fingers are much faster than our eyeballs when he tricks us at a distance of one feet using simple things like matchsticks and handkerchiefs.

"Things have to be done at the speed of light. Otherwise, I can't have a `magical' career in a real world," he laughs.

Assuring youngsters that magic can also be considered as a career option "provided you are serious about it and undergo rigorous training for at least a year," he says, "Be confident in whatever you do, even if you commit a mistake. And talent counts a lot in a tough field like this."

Shado classifies magic into `manipulative' (the most difficult one involving `pure skill') and `material' categories. He says "there is no grey area in magic — there is only black or white," and says quite pragmatically that "neither magic is a supernatural power nor can magicians go against the nature and create things on stage (`we need props too!'). Magic is just an art supported by science."

Shado, who's also keen on reaching out to non-English speaking and rural audience, predominantly uses Telugu to communicate. A commendable gesture indeed.


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