Maneka Sorcar tells Liza George how magic is part of her life
She has magic in her blood and can trace her roots to the court of Emperor Jehangir. The ninth generation of Sorcars pursuing magic, Maneka Sorcar, daughter of magician P. C. Sorcar Jr., is one of the few women magicians in the world. She speaks to MetroPlus on how magic cast a spell on her life. First hocus-pocus?I have been trying a trick or two since I can remember. Abracadabra of a good magician? Magic cannot be taught, it has to be learnt. It requires dedication. Schools just hone your innate skill. Your father's reaction? He was elated. He told me I had to dedicate myself fully to this art and not compromise on a heritage that is thousands of years old. But first he told me that I had to prove I was a worthy successor.Success with a bang?I did loads of research and decided to do a trick, which I call `Big Bang.' A couple of magicians were seriously injured doing it. I did not discuss the trick with my father. The day I was to perform the trick I told him and he was furious. My mother on the other hand understood why I chose it, but said that if I failed I wouldn't be welcome in the household, as it would bring shame to the family. My hands and feet were bound for the trick and I had dynamite sticks covering my body. I was then placed in a crate that was later sealed. When it was set ablaze, the crate and dynamite caught fire in just eight seconds and exploded. Just when the public were gathering courage to come forward and inspect the scene, a fire engine came in. My family were relieved to see me driving the engine. Why such a feat?Well, first of all, because my father wanted me to prove myself. But I guess the main reason why I chose it was, I wanted to show everyone that a girl could be as good a magician as a man. All my life I have heard people telling my father how it was a shame that he had three daughters and no son to carry on the legacy. It would leave me seething. The `Big Bang' goes to show that a woman can be as good a magician as a man.All in the family?There were many good woman magicians in our family. My great grandmother was a skilled magician. She, however, was scared she would be branded a witch, so she would only perform for close family. Women are slowly coming out of the closet with society becoming attuned to the changing times. The Sorcar name? Well, the Sorcar name is ammunition for me against competition. However with it comes great responsibility, as I have to live up to the name and expectations. Trade secrets? I think it is cheap. You are taking the food right out of the street magician's mouth. How will they survive if you reveal what is behind a trick? Besides you are robbing the trick of its fun. It's the mystery of the trick that charms and holds the attention of the audience. The Western perception of India?It's a shame that Westerners view India as a poor country and as a land of fakirs and snake charmers. They are surprised when shown a world-class magic show by an Indian.Wedding bells?Marriage is not on the cards as yet. I want to build a career first before walking down the aisle.