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Nothing short of magic

SAC Vasanth Photo: K. Ananthan

SAC Vasanth Photo: K. Ananthan   | Photo Credit: K_Ananthan

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An encounter with SAC Vasanth is full of the unexpected. Subha J Rao visits him in his magician's den

When SAC Vasanth extends his hand for a handshake or offers you his visiting card, watch out. The last time we met, his card went up in flames and a colleague's wrist watch disappeared and appeared in his shoe! Until six years ago, the heavy-set magician Vasanth operated out of his Nehru Stadium office in Coimbatore, his hometown. He did stage shows and product launches. Success came, but took its time. He embraced the opportunities that television threw up. A stint in Doordarshan (Maya Maya) and Kalaignar TV (Logic Illa Magic) later, he moved to Mumbai with wife and confidante Geetha. Once there, he underwent an image makeover and shed 20 kg. Today, Vasanth is mobbed wherever he goes.When SAC Vasanth extends his hand for a handshake or offers you his visiting card, watch out. The last time we met, his card went up in flames and a colleague's wrist watch disappeared and appeared in his shoe! Until six years ago, the heavy-set magician Vasanth operated out of his Nehru Stadium office in Coimbatore, his hometown. He mostly did novel product launches. Success came, but took its time. He embraced the opportunities that television threw up. A long stint in Doordarshan (Maya Maya) and Kalaignar TV (Logic Illa Magic) later, he moved to Mumbai with his wife and confidante Geetha. Once there, he underwent an image makeover and shed 20 kg. Today, Vasanth is mobbed wherever he goes.

“Initially, it was difficult to even get an audience with the studio heads,” recalls Vasanth, sitting in his plush, black-and-red-themed home near Kalapatti, his refuge from energetic Mumbai. But it was there that he learnt to deal with the professionals. “I learnt how to present a concept. And to never commit to something before I was 100 per sure I could do it.”

Meeting his idol

That was how he landed India's Magic Star on Star One, for which he provided the concept. He also shared the stage as a judge with childhood idol Jackie Shroff. “My brother and I have been his fans since ‘Tere Meherbaaniyaan'. It was providence that I got to meet and work with him.” Comedy Circus ka Jadoo on Sony followed, where all the comedians learnt how to perform magic from him. He also shot for God Busters for Fox History/BBC, the first step, he believes, before he goes international. “I'm grateful to Doordarshan. Maya Maya ran for 156 weeks and I had to come up with novel tricks every single week. That fuelled creativity. I learnt how to come up with tricks for television. Stage magic and televised magic are very different,” he explains.

Surprise element

When Vasanth performs for television, he ensures the trick takes even the cinematographer by surprise. “If he knows, what's the surprise for the viewer?” he asks. Vasanth needs about 10 days to process a trick from the ‘idea stage' to the televised product. “Storyboarding and choreography are essential. There should be no rough edges,” he insists.

It was not like Vasanth was obsessed with magic since his childhood. The art consumed him when he was an “over the hill” 24. “There was no guru. It was all about trial and error. But, I discussed magic with my friends ‘Cijam' Jammu, ‘Magic' Johnson and ‘Jadugar' Anand,” says the magician who looks up to David Copperfield. But, he does not believe in imitating anyone. “Looking back, I think I was meant to be in magic. My first trick? Using a 25-paise Big Fun bubblegum. I convinced amma that I had spat it out when I actually had not. I then learnt to see the blueprint of any trick.”

His very first show saw his 1,500 viewers awe-struck. But it was a learning experience too. “The promoter ran away midway. I'm still waiting for my first remuneration,” he laughs. Today, his live shows are much sought after. Laser beams obey his command. A girl chains him to a pole. In a minute, he frees himself. Now, she's chained.

A spectacle to remember

Vasanth uses illusion, sleight of hand and technology to mesmerise. All these are high-tech spectacles that demand grace and precision. For constructive criticism he looks to his wife Geetha. “It's better to get criticised at home than in front of an audience, no?” asks Vasanth. He has invested in newer props and is on the lookout for anything that will make his magic more magical.

Living in a small town, Vasanth had to think out of the box. That's how his product launches and concept shows came about. He recently did a launch for Audi in Mumbai, where he made the car appear out of nowhere. From cars and noodles to software, he has worked on diverse products using magic.

“It's a crime to let magic flounder. It has to be preserved. We must evolve and contemporarise it. And people must learn to loosen their purse strings for magic,” says Vasanth. He hates it when spoilsports try to demystify magic. “The best part about magic is that you know it is a trick, and I know it too. But, you're still willing to suspend your belief. Why take away that thrill and childlike wonder?”

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Printable version | Jul 19, 2018 9:57:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nothing-short-of-magic/article2924045.ece