If there is a
in India today, as the nation is travelling through one of the largest democratic
in the world, there appears to be a Sorcar sorcery as well.
While the media has been going to town talking about magician PC Sorcar contesting the parliamentary elections from West Bengal’s Barasat on a Bharatiya Janata Party Ticket, there is another PC Sorcar in Chennai cutting a woman into two and rousing her back to life or pulling out geese from an empty can or reading numerals blindfold or simply fading.
But who are these two men?
It takes a while to wade through this P puzzle. Well, PC Sorcar or Protul Chandra Sorcar was a highly regarded magician – whose shows have enthralled me as a boy in Kolkata’s swanky New Empire Theatre. He mesmerised men round the globe, but on a bitterly cold January night in Japan’s Hokkaido, he died. Only a couple of hours before that, he had entranced Japanese audiences, and had performed his famous vanishing trick. None then knew that he would disappear for ever.
But he left behind two sons – Prodip Chandra Sorcar (PC Sorcar Junior) and Provas Chandra Sorcar (PC Sorcar Young) – and both grew to become magicians. Each in his own right.
So, while Junior is spreading the Modi magic in Bengal, Young sparkles on stage in Chennai. Helping him to conjure is his son, Pouroosh. Often called India’s Leonardo Da Vinci, Young is extraordinarily gifted. A commercial pilot, who can navigate the skies with the same kind of ease that can hum strings of a sitar as he can solve the most difficult of mathematical equations. He is also an ace ballet dancer, and as I watch him create one illusion after another on stage, his footwork is enchanting.
Gulaab Gang director to make a biopic on PC Sorcar
As women appear and disappear in a hail of swords (not bullets), as skeletons spring to life in darkness and as water flows in a stream of eternity from a small jar, Provas and Pouroosh step in and out of the stage to the lilting tunes composed by Young , to the spectacle called Indrajal.
In fact, their family mansion in Kolkata’s Ballygung is still called Indrajal, an imposing structure that had me all excited as school kid. Those were of course the days when television had not enslaved us, when a circus or a magic show fascinated beyond the realm of reality.
The father and son stay in the family mansion in Kolkata’s Ballygung that still sports Indrajal. It still spells magic as Pouroosh tells me during a chat after an evening show. Magic thrills even to this day, he avers, and on a Monday evening, true to what he said, the auditorium in Chennai’s T Nagar has an impressive crowd. And not just children alone. There are many adults who had come by themselves.
"Magic is still magical", quips Young. "Despite movies and television, our shows have always drawn decent crowds. And we have innovated through the latest gadgets and techniques that were not available in my father’s times".
But several of the items have been carried over from what PC Sorcar Senior developed and perfected. “People want to see those that my Father showed”, he says.
The blood curdling sawing of a lady into two has been an eternal attraction of the Sorcar show. And the way the man himself disappears from stage to appear elsewhere minutes later is one of those moments that is just ecstatic. At New Empire, Senior used to emerge on the balcony of the auditorium shouting out, “here I am”. And there he was. In Chennai, Pouroosh came in through the front door.
The father and son call this a play of illusion. Call it what you may, their sleight of hand has the power to bewilder you. Much like the way Senior had lions roaring in and out of existence, much like the manner in which Junior had the Taj Mahal evaporating in thin air. Some day, Young and his young might just about get Chennai’s Fort St George ebb out of sight.
What about the ballot papers in Bengal? Will they dance to the wave of the wand?