Casting a spell

Young illusionist 'Amazing' David's first major show was for the Royal Family of Bhutan. Photo: Special Arrangement  

India’s tryst with magic goes back to the time before books and movies. “India is the land of fairytales,” says Maneka Sorcar, popular magician and daughter of P.C. Sorcar, Jr. “The madaris or the street magicians have been performing this art for over thousands of years now. Magic has always been a part of theatrical performance; it is essentially a fairytale or science fiction enacted on stage.” Here’s a look at some of the country’s youngest magicians, their passion for the artform and their opinions on the future of magic.

Karun Krishna

In the age of YouTube when anyone can learn tricks off the Internet, 20-year-old Karun Krishna firmly believes in formal teaching and practice. Having been ensnared by magic since he was three, Karun has given more than 10,000 performances in India and abroad. Currently pursuing an engineering degree, he has been mentoring under popular magician M.P. Hashim since 2003. “Magic, like every thing else, is an evolving art form,” says Karun. “The field has changed and more people are now pursuing it as a hobby and career.” Having a unique style and being different are musts to attract an audience. “Every show is different,” exclaims Karun. “Each person in the audience reacts differently, for there are believers as well as sceptics. They keep the show going and as a magician, I try to maintain an element of surprise and make them laugh.”

With magic not getting the recognition that it deserves, Karun feels that much has to be done to revive this performing art. “But it is not a recognised in India, neither by the people nor by the government. Succeeding in magic depends highly on hard work and luck,” says Karun. “Personally, magic has become a part of me and defined who I am. I can never let go of it.”

Shaily Rangrez

All of 19, Shaily Rangrez’s story is the stuff of fairytales. Captivated by fairytales and magic in her childhood, Shaily resided in her own magical world, nurturing her passion for the art form. “The stories, the wands, the unknown powers, the enchantments - it all drew my attention,” laughs Shaily. Debuting at the age of five, Shaily has performed over 3,000 shows at the national and international level. “To me, magic is not just a hobby, but an ever-growing and never-ending passion,” says Shaily. “Born to a father who is also a magician was a blessing, as he helped discover the magician in me.” Currently a college student, Shaily has received many accolades at the national and international level. So, what’s the secret behind a successful magician? “The ultimate aim of a magician should be to entertain the audience no matter what and bring a smile to their face,” she says. “Youngsters training as magicians should be confident in their tricks and in the face of something gone wrong, they should know how to handle the crisis in a smart way.”

Shaily’s future plans include opening a magic school for youngsters like her. who want to grow as a magician, expanding beyond the realms and exploring this fantastical world. “All I want to do is bring a little magic to the world we are living in,” she smiles.

Amazing David

As a teenager, David’s pockets bulged with magic tricks and articles. Now, as the 26-year-old puts it, magic takes him wherever he goes. Currently a performing illusionist, ‘Amazing’ David has been a professional magician for six years now. His first big show was for the royal family of Bhutan, for whom he performed a series of shows for a couple of years. “As a magician, it is my job to remind the audience that there is still wonder left in this world,” he smiles. “The core idea of being a magician, according to me is to bring about a sense of wonder and give my audience a break from their daily grind.” Beginning his journey right after school, David’s childhood was a magical one. “I remember watching all the magic shows on television. I bought magic kits from toy shops and showed them off to my friends.” Later on, he came across a performer selling magic tricks on the pavement and ended up learning more from this man by observing him everyday.

A versatile performer, Amazing David has developed acts to almost suit any situations. “It’s all about being passionate about the art and going out to the world and performing it. To quote Roald Dahl, ‘Always believe in a little magic. Magic is believing in yourself and if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

Srinidhi Vasudevan

Srinidhi Vasudevan, 20, could well be called the Harry Potter of Chennai. She learnt magic from her father, who is a also veteran magician. Seeing him perform made her want to learn it as well. Initially pursuing it as a hobby, Srinidhi started performing in shows later on. “I gave a performance when I was in Class V for Children’s Day. The officials were impressed, which led to more shows. There has been no looking back since.”

Learning new and better tricks and updating herself continuously, Srinidhi’s expertise lies in the conjuring and illusion branches of magic. Having given performances at international platforms (Kuwait) as well, she says, that one needs to be a good entertainer and performer, and have the talent to grab the audience’s attention to pursue magic. “Sustaining the mystery around the magic tricks is an art in itself. It’s when the audience blindly believes in magic that it becomes a charming form of entertainment.”

How can youngsters ready themselves to pursue this offbeat career? “Rehearse well, keep updating oneself, get to know what the audience likes, interact with them and have a unique style to survive in this field.”

Suhani Shah

She did not learn magic professionally, but 24-year-old Suhani Shah is what one would call an inherent artist. Having performed for 17 years now, magic was always her first passion. “I had the urge to do something different since childhood and it reflected in the career I chose for myself.” Having done 5,000 shows since she started performing at the age of seven, Suhani says, “To me, the most exciting part is when I look at the audience for their reactions and expressions. Their expressions speak volumes about the child-like wonder of magic. And nothing can beat that.” Making a career out of magic can be quite risky, as one has to struggle to establish themselves. “It took me 17 years of continuous effort to reach the point I’m at right now. Youngsters need to be careful before choosing magic as a career, as with any other career, it too has its pros and cons,” explains Suhani.

Suhani has never had a formal education, but she has more than made up for it. Having written five books on mind psychology and human behaviour, she works as a corporate trainer and also has a clinic in Goa. “Experiences derived by living out of suitcases and performing magic shows have taught me more than what a school could or would,” she says.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 11:02:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/what-leads-chennais-youngsters-to-make-a-career-in-magic/article6325953.ece

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