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100 years of spinning magic

Trick and treat: The famed ‘Master of Vanish’ PC Sorcar Jr carries forward the Sorcarian legacy of Indrajal magic. Furquan Ameen Siddiqui reports.

art and culture Updated: May 26, 2013 00:50 IST
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
Hindustan Times

The more educated you are, the easier it is to trick you,” says Prodip Chandra Sorcar, popularly known as PC Sorcar Jr, an eight generation magician from the Sorcar family. He picks up a piece of candy from a bowl and a moment later it’s gone, poof! By the time I realise that he hadn’t even picked up a candy, the ‘educated’ person in me was fooled. “Educated people have certain preconceptions and are trained to certain rhythms. Bring me the president of India, I’ll baffle him too,” quips Sorcar, who is in the city with his daughter to celebrate the centenary of Indrajal, a Sorcarian legacy of illusions.

Indrajal, according to Sorcar, is a theatrical representation of ‘wishful dreams of living happily; where nothing is impossible’. The two-and-a-half hour show, including interval, is like a film woven out of well-spaced out tales and tricks, each having a specific background score.

Competing with modern entertainment, the magic show has retained the rustic and traditional feel. Props that still use painted, loud fonts, girls draped in multi-coloured clothes dance around on music that is close to the Indian cinema music of the 70s and 80s. “Why should we pose as westerners when what we have here is unique and traditional? It holds its own charm,” says Maneka Sorcar, who shares the stage with her father.

Maneka is a ninth generation Sorcar to take up the family art. After an MBA from Ohio, she started her magical journey three years back. It hasn’t been easy. “It was naïve of me to think that it’ll be an easy ride. Society came up with excuses to reject a woman as a professional magician,” says the Sorcar daughter. But her mother, Jayshree, had already proved the point. Coming from a family with no magic background, she had a big role to play in what Indrajal is today.

“Kids are not easy to trick,” says Sorcar Jr. Ironically, his biggest fans in the show were children, awestruck at the acts he was putting up. During an act, Sorcar Jr asked few volunteers to join him on stage and a horde of kids ran to be a part of it. Only to be disappointed as intellectuals and learned persons were sought, who wrote mathematics and physics formulae which were to be guessed by a blindfolded Sorcar — much to the crowd’s amazement.

At a time when technology is demystifying their art, the Sorcars are stretching the limit, calling what we know magic as ‘visual science’. They weave acts of illusion with enchanting storytelling — from Egypt to Rome to Japan, one can travel the world of magic in their marathon show. “I call it Dramagic, where drama meets magic,” says Maneka.

Toward the end of the show, in act called the Spirit of India, Maneka enters a decorated closet and vanishes. The audience looks for the secret, baffled by her performance. As Michael Caine in the movie The Prestige says, ‘You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back’. Maneka reappears behind the audience, screaming, holding an Indian flag.

Indrajal is on till June 9 at the FICCI Golden Jubilee Auditorium, Tansen Marg, Delhi.

First Published: May 26, 2013 00:47 IST