For mind reader, magician and hypnotist based in Bengaluru, Nakul Shenoy, the secret to magic lies in the performance, not a series of tricks. To facilitate this notion, the enterprising thinker and performer has brought out a book Smart Course In Magic , (HarperCollins Publishers India) that dwells on confidence-building and connecting the essence of magic with performance rather than mere tricks.
The book, a conceptual game-changer in the learning of magic attempts to break down the elements of performance through classic tricks in an effective off-the-shelf course that can also be used in workshops by aspiring magicians and seasoned performers alike. Sharing the concept behind the first-of-its-kind book in India, Nakul explains that there are hundreds of books out there that teach you tricks, but none teach you performance. “My book barely has any tricks — surprising for a magic book. This is a book that teaches performance.”
Looking back, the budding 37-year-old entertainer recalls that it was his fascination for books that really started him off on his journey into magic. “Mandrake the Magician was a comic book series that inspired me when I was five. My first magic kit had a guide book. And coming to Bangalore from my home in Udupi, I used to hunt for books in stores. So books have always been part of my venture into magic. While I did move from the traditional card and rope magic to mind reading, the basics remain the same. With my communication background, I wanted to write, which is my passion, and the idea of the book came out. HarperCollins were thrilled to publish a magic book and a couple of my international mentors were happy to give a foreword and introduction. I still can’t believe it’s out,” he says with a beaming smile.
Nakul elaborates that he wanted to bring out a book for the general public and not just magicians. “Once you are into magic, you do get books, but there are hardly any on performances. This book prepares you for higher thinking. The few books that exist, dwell on trick, method and magic, which is a really bad way of looking at it. This one looks at the various aspects of magic. Most shows lack the emotional connect. This book facilitates anyone to pick it up and try their hand at performing magic. It is my small contribution to society.”
Is the book going to have a sequel? “On magic? I’m not too sure at this point. It’s not your end-all book. This is a brilliant start in your journey of magic. I’m 20 years in the field and I’m still learning. Giving stories, situations and plots, it’s an open ended book. I don’t know if there is a smarter course in magic,” he laughs. Nakul hopes people will take back from the book that “magic is art, science and communication. There is a psychology in every act and magic should connect.”
To aspiring magicians out there, he says: “Go out there and do it. You can change and touch lives in a way no one else can. But, before you go, practice and rehearse. Everything changes with a real performance. I personally am someone who never thought I’ll get here, but here I am now. Make sure you leave your audience in amazement and wonder.”
In a country like India, is it a good time to be a fulltime magician? “Yes,” affirms Nakul. “In fact, it’s a good time to be fulltime anything. The world is opening up. I used to be in the corporate sector myself. It’s good to do things in your own time, think and plan your life out.”
With the internet laying out all the answers in the open, is it all the more challenging for a magician now? Nakul agrees. “The world has changed. People can go online and Google how a trick is done. My advice is to personalise what you perform. Capture them in the story so much that they forget to analyse. The moment someone is thinking, he is looking at the trick as a puzzle and is challenged to solve it. Magic should leave people in amazement and wonder. In fact, the same magic has existed – only the aspect has been reinvented. The classic cutting a lady in half has been reinvented innumerable times. Exposures do hurt but most often they push the bar further. In the long run, it helps.” Visit www.nakulshenoy.com for more details.