The illusionists – Bangalore Mirror – 25Apr2010

Bangalore Mirror : It’s the new face of magic. The real-life “Harry Potters” are corporate entertainers, adept at mind reading techniques and using technology to further the cause of hocus-pocus. Renuka Phadnis meets a bunch of new-age magicians in the city and comes back enchanted.

If you thought Bangalore is “muggly”, chew over this: five hundred people in this city potter with magic including conjuring, reading minds, doing illusion tricks and performing ventriloquism. Among these is a swish set that juggles magic with another job,  are tech-savvy to the hilt and have the corporate crowd fascinated by their tricks.

Prahalad and Poornima Acharya are a magician couple, who have had a long stint as independent performing magicians. Now, they say they are doing their bit for society by helping children be more confident through magic, shadow play and theatre. In the past, Prahalad Acharya has done Houdini-like tricks that are dangerous and death-defying escape stunts. He claims to be the only magician in India to escape from the Bangalore Central Prison (in just 8 seconds!). He says he has also performed the Houdini escape at the Jog Falls and has made 18-ft high the Golden Chariot of Udupi disappear. He also says he has perfomed the legendary Indian Rope Trick. Magic looks unbelievable but it is nothing but science and some sleight-of-hand by smart ‘magicians’. Prahalad Acharya, who is an exponent of ventriloquism, and a shadow play artiste says, “Magic is rational. There is no mesmerising, no power, no hypnotism. It is all about gadgets, the use of directions and optical illusions.”  Wife Poornima is one of the rare women magicians. She took up magic after marriage, and does independent magic shows that last upto two hours.

When I met Nakul Shenoy, he asked me to think of a person and to write his/her name on a piece of paper. He then took the paper and without looking at it, cut it into tiny bits and returned the bits to me. Then he named the person I had thought of! When I asked him how he did it, he smiled and said, “Magicians don’t tell.”  But Shenoy, who calls himself a ‘mindreader and corporate entertainer’ reminds us that magic is all science.  He has 15 years of professional experience in magic entertainment, teaches magic, and writes for magic magazines. One of three mindreaders in India, he networks with the best in the business, across the world. He is just back in the city after a jam session in Las Vegas with other magic folk such as Max Maven, Jeff Mcbride, Eugene Burger and Bob Cassidy. “It helps to learn some magic for people to remember you by. Master a few tricks and you will find it is a useful icebreaker in get-togethers, a fascinating hobby, and it is lovely when people recognise you as ‘the Magic Kid’. Magic is not for muggles. To learn it, you have to be rational, nifty, and cool to fool an audience,” he says.

Software engineer Tiju Philip, a Christ College product and intern at an IT firm, is a stage magician by hobby. He has been practising illusion andMagician Philip conjuring for 11 years now. As a 12-year-old, he saw a magic show and got a magic book. He did some shows and they were all successful. That got him hooked. Tiju has attended magic school — the Magic Academy. His ‘guru’ is magician Gopinath Muthukad. Now, Tiju has founded and designed a portal for Indian magicians called He has also helped launch a portal called . Tiju wants to tell the world that there is far more to India than the great Indian rope trick. Tiju, who creates ‘magic software’, says, “Magic today is about science and technology. Magicians from Bangalore are more tech-savvy than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. They have a presence on the net and use a lot of online sources and social media. As a community, Indian magicians go online for resources.” And image counts, so both Nakul and Tiju are on Twitter.

The Magic Shop
Giridhar’s shop has everything that will inspire you to do the ‘abracadabra’ bit
If you want to learn some magic, you don’t need to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Skip Diagon Alley, forget Platform 9 and 3/4. Bangalore has a space for magic folk and it is called The Magic Shop. This is a place where magic props are sold, magic classes are held, magic books and magazines are kept (for reference only!), and where magicians meet to read and discuss about their craft. Giridhar Kamath, the proprietor of Magic Shop, has performed magic for years. He has been  manufacturing and exporting magic apparatus for 20 years. Whatever your age, you will find some challenging magic props here. For a five-year-old kid, there is the ‘magic book’ – you open it and it is blank. Open it a second time, it is full of colourful drawings! Then there is the ‘magic dice box’. When you open it the first time, you see a small dice. Open the box a second time and you see a big dice! If you think that is for the kids, try this – a ball that moves and stops at your command.
Magic Facts
* There are 10,000 magicians in India, both known and unknown, and 500 are in Bangalore.
* Magicians meet at their conferences. One such international meet is called ‘Vismaya’. At the last Vismaya meet held in 2008 in Trivandrum, 1,000 Indian magicians India attended.
* See for a magicians directory, dealers, institutions, societies and clubs, magicians on Twitter.
* Within the next one year, an event of magic will happen in Bangalore.
* The next magic event is on May 31 – the Women Magicians Meet, Trivandrum.
* The Academy of Magical Sciences is in Trivandrum.
* Magicians read and write for Vismayam Magical News.
* Magicians get prizes for good work too. They are called Wizards Award member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (USA).
* Where do magic people do R&D? Magic & Allied Arts Development & Research Institute
Article by Renuka Phadnis , Bangalore Mirror 25Apr2010, Page 11