Want to become a magician?

Game for some amazing feats and daredevil acts? You should then explore the world of magic, advises Pranab Ghosh.

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 11:58 IST
Pranab Ghosh
Pranab Ghosh
Hindustan Times

Magic is not her profession; it is her religion. She “breathes, eats, drinks — in short, lives magic.” To say that magic has been in her blood is an understatement. Her family is in the business of magic for nine generations now.

Maneka Sorcar’s journey in the world of magic began as a child when she used to imitate her illustrious father, P C Sorcar (Junior) or her mother, performing on stage. Today, at 29, she “plays the role of a magician” on stage.

Her latest magical feat has been bicycling on water, first performed in Bengal and then in Europe. The act involves her getting up on an ordinary bicycle duly checked by prominent members of the area where the show is held (they are selected randomly from the audience). “The place where I perform this act has to have a shore and a waterline. I have so far performed on a river and a lake,” she says. And then she starts cycling – yes on water! “You cycle just as you would on the road and go in any direction,” she says. Wouldn’t she sink? Leave alone sinking, she wouldn’t even get wet. “As you paddle, water will splash on you – and that’s just about how wet you get,” she laughs.

Sorcar, however, won’t give away her secrets. But if you are to believe her this is science! “Magic is a combination of art and science, backed by human psychology,” she says. “It is science because whatever tricks we perform are no hocus-pocus; it’s based on the principles of physics, chemistry and mathematics,” she adds. Agrees Raja Chaudhuri, a Kolkata-based magician, who performs in the corporate circle. “It’s 100 per cent science. I have found no occultism in magic. It is a performing art,” he says.

But what does it take to become a Sorcar? “Knowledge, hard work and dedication,” says Sorcar herself. And one would want to make it a full-time or a part-time profession depending on “how much you want out of it”, says Rahul Kharbanda, a Delhi based magician, aged 29, who has recently performed in Star One’s India’s Magic Star show. Sherif Mayika, a Kochi-based magician, whose first month’s earning as a magician was R5000 and who now earns R1.50 lakh a month thinks magic should be a full-time profession. “It should be a full-time job, then only we would be able to compete with quality international magicians,” he says.

Sorcar, however, feels that one could even be an amateur or a part-time magician. “Even if you are not doing performances you can do research. There is plenty that you can do with magic,” she says.

Magic, when seen from a broader perspective, has a lot to offer, she feels. If we go beyond the narrow definition of magic, we will see it’s much more than pulling the proverbial rabbit out of a hat or turning one ball into two, she says. Hypnosis, she informs, could be one of the magician’s tricks. However this very hypnosis can be and in some cases are “used as a substitute of anaesthesia”. All patients required to undergo an operation may not stand anesthesia and for them hypnosis could be a boon.

Magic, nonetheless, could be a double-edged sword. There are certain aspects of it that need to be dealt with care. “Like a knife that can be used for surgery or murder, magic can do both good and bad,” Sorcar says. Therefore, all its practitioners must have integrity. Magic is indeed a world meant for responsible entertainers.

What’s it about?
Magic is an art form. It refers to entertainment in which the performer does magical tricks. The most comm- on kinds of magic are
a) sleight of hand, which requires skillful hand movements
b) close-up magic, which is performed with spectators close to the performer
c) illusion, which involves large-scale tricks with the aid of elaborate equipment
d) escape magic, in which magicians make apparently impossible escapes and
e) mentalist magic, in which magicians perform mind-reading tricks and predict future events

Clock Work
7 am: Wake up
10.30 am: Magic practise 2.30 pm: Lunch
3 pm: Visit offices/clients. Meet organisers of magic shows
7 pm: Rehearse magic, provided there are no shows
9.30 pm: Take a walk
10 pm: Dine
11 pm: Read books related to magic
12.30 pm: Go to sleep

. Basic Education
. Passion for Magic
. Positive thinking
. Patience to practice hard
. Self belief
. Showmanship
. Integrity and honesty

How do i get there?
Try to acquire more knowledge about the profession. Knowledge is the key to success in every profession. There are many categories of magic like — close up magic, conjuring, sleight of hands, stage illusion, optical illusions, mentalism magic, fusion magic, etc. One should have knowledge of all these categories before launching oneself as a magician. It is always good to train with an established magician.

As regards formal education, there is no ideal educational background that can help one be a magician. There are many engineers, lawyers, doctors, who are pursuing magic as a hobby

Indian Brotherhood of Magicians (Regd.), managed by Magician Sumit — New Delhi
. The Sorcar Magic University, managed by P.C Sorcar (Jr.) — Kolkata (W.B)
. Kismat Magic Institute, managed by Magician Rajath — Howrah (W.B)
. Prasanthi HRD centre, managed by Magician Pattabhi Ram (AP)
. Jadu Maha Vidyalaya, managed by Swami Sarkar (Gwalior)

The Payoff
There are no income slabs for entry level, middle level or senior level.
It's all about how well a show is presented, the skills of a magician, the knowledge of magic he/she has and, most important, how the audience accepts him/her.
Moreover, if a magician customises a show creatively, most organising companies will be ready to pay him or her a hefty amount. The income of a magician can be anywhere between Rs3000 to Rs3,00,000 a month

Pros & Cons


Enormous self-satisfaction. Applause of the audience will thrill you.


You will get name and fame and with it money, provided you are good at your work.


To become a professional showman you need to invest a lot


You will be required to travel a lot and may have to work with strange people if you do not have your own troupe

Indians are now trying new things in magic

An experienced magician gives a ringside view of the profession

What is the scope of work of a magician in the country?
Previously, it was called a dying ancient art. But today, with the entry of educated persons in the field of magic, it has been revived as the most modern and finest of all art forms.

In India, the scope of magic is wide as the entertainment Industry has grown in recent years. There has been a lot of demand for and recognition of magic in the country. Magic today is standing tall and solid and it will always remain in demand.

Are there adequate numbers of good magicians in the country?
Yes, there are many good magicians in India. My personal favourites are K Lal, P C Sorcar (Jr), Samrat Shankar, Rajath Narsimha, Maneka Sorcar and many more…

They all are unique in their own aspects and are versatile in their presentations.

But, I must also mention that I have met many persons who have a very limited knowledge of magic and that too of mechanical tricks and they are pursuing magic as a profession by owning a handful of magic items.

My suggestion to them is to think big. Magic has a lot to offer provided you are patient about learning good skills and form an exceptional magic routine.

Once you form a unique magic routine, the world will be a smaller place to travel and 365 days would not be enough in a year.

What is the status of magic in India today? Is its popularity increasing?
The status of magic in India has improved immensely in the last five to seven years. Indian magicians are matching the standards of international performers by experimenting and trying new things in magic. Today, magic of India is in demand everywhere. The popularity is increasing day by day, thanks to the television and print media.

Where can a magician find employment?
A magician is generally hired at top five star hotels, amusement parks, and eatery chains like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut etc for birthday party

In addition to this, a magician is hired for a corporate product launch, dealers’ meet, shopping mall promotions, TV channels, during celebration of festivals like Durga Pujas and Janamashtami, for school carnivals, general get-togethers etc.

What is the future of magic as a career choice among young men/women?
The future of magic is very bright as I have come across many youngsters who aspire to be magicians and are working very hard. As for women, they have always been a part of this industry as good assistants but now have stepped forward and have made their own mark as magicians. Some very good female magicians in India are — Maneka Sorcar (Kolkata), Sangeeta (Delhi), Taposi Deb (Asansol), Anchal (Rajasthan), Kruti (Mumbai).

Ashok Kharbanda Interviewed by Pranab Ghosh

First Published: Aug 25, 2010 10:03 IST