Drummond Money-Coutts remembers his first visit to India — as a wide-eyed 18-year-old doing a stint with investment bank Goldman Sachs in London. “India offered everything that the dry corporate environment hadn’t been for so long,” he says. “It was the energy, the magic, the colours, the people, the faces, the smiles, the madness, the unpredictability... I fell in love almost straight away.”
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Now 35, he has long since left the corporate corridors behind — unexpected, considering his family founded Coutts & Co, the private bankers to the British royal family — and made a name for himself as a magician and card shark. He’s also been back in the country almost a dozen times, to perform magic at both ticketed shows and private bookings (for the Ambanis and Birlas, and stars like Ranveer Singh).
But most people recognise him as the star of Netflix’s Death by Magic . In the popular 2018 show, he recreated stunts that caused the death of other magicians — such as Karr the Mysterious’ attempt to escape a straitjacket and a moving vehicle within 60 seconds or the failed underwater escape by Gilbert Genesta. Shot in five different countries, what viewers don’t know is that during its making he had “to see paramedics on three out of the eight stunts”, as there were accidents both on camera and off.
- Money-Coutts is a clotheshorse, and he has a weakness for suits. “They have always been a second skin for me,” he says. “I’ve been blessed to work with Huntsman, one of the foremost tailors on Saville Row in London. They’ve been very generous over the years with a number of suits and overcoats.” But he also love travelling in parts of Asia and India, and get something tailor-made. On a previous trip, he visited “a small tailor in Udaipur, and had a very simple Nehru jacket made that I will wear for months and months. So, for me, it’s not so much about money, but more about finding those fabrics, those styles, those colours”.
No wonder then that there are no plans for season two. “Netflix were keen not to roll the dice again,” he says matter-of-factly.
But taking risks is something he embraces in his day-to-day life. “I like to skydive, free dive, scuba dive, just push into all these many spaces and experiences,” says Money-Coutts, who sports a tattoo around his left ear that spells ‘Hausla Pyaar Vishwas’ (courage, love, faith) in Hindi. His passion for travelling makes it easy to satisfy his sense of adventure, though he admits that with the pandemic, he’s had to find other ways to channel his energies. In 2020, he began writing a novel, “inspired by a mentor I had when I was 19-20” (he has completed the first draft), and developed a new card game, Zilch! “It’s a very simple but competitive word game with playing cards,” he explains, adding that it will soon be launched in India.
A lot like love
Currently in the country, Money-Coutts believes the time is ripe for magic. “Everyone is looking for a means of escape from the realities of what’s been going on now for 18 months — be it comedy or music or literature or movies or magic.”
Does he never tire of the illusions, though? No, he says, because in many ways, magic is like love. “For me, it is all based around that same sensation, that moment of astonishment, that wide-eyed moment of wonder when you see something impossible, you throw your head back and you just soak in that incredible moment of awe and wonder.”