Mumbai: PC Sorcar Jr is magic. The robe-and-wand yielding, feather-turban clad, abracadabra kind that takes over your mind and opens it to a world where everything is limitless and impossible is nothing. MiD DAY catches up with him as he returns to the city after a gap of 12 years to perform in aid of cancer patients, and comes back mystified.
Sans his dramatic on-stage avatar, and with his smiling daughter and protégé, Maneka, by his side, it’s easy to mistake PC Sorcar as just another dad, but the twinkle in their eyes is a dead giveaway of the Jr duo’s inherent intelligence, deep understanding of life and everything that goes with that uncanny aura that men (and in this case, women) of the mystical arts are surrounded with.
You’d be tempted to, but don’t let Sorcar Jr hear you call him the Dumbledore of Indian magic. Besides, he doesn’t even know who you are referring to. Make no mistake. Sorcar loves his books, and is an avid knowledge-seeker who starts his day with 27 different newspapers, but hailing from a generation of magicians (His father, PC Sorcar Sr, has forever etched their name in the magic world) he is interested in only the real deal.
“Sorry to tell you, but Rowling madam is a liar,” he says, as Maneka laughs, amused at her father’s conviction and lack of subtlety. “Harry Potter isn’t her imagination. There have been many Harrys in magic, starting from Harry Houdini to Harry Keller. And Richard Potter was a famous African-American magician,” he says. Sounds far-fetched? But when PC Sorcar tells you something, you’re likely to believe it.
Just as the world believed when he ‘vanished’ the Taj and the Indore-Amritsar Express in November 2000 and July 1992, respectively. How did he do it? “I have only one standard answer to that question, after which I add, ‘Don’t tell anyone,’” he laughs. Magic comes naturally to him. “The universe is magic. Night becomes day becomes night. I don’t know what I am without magic. It’s like asking a fish to stay without water,” he says.
The magic of Sorcar lies in the man himself. He loves his art and like the children who are so enamoured by his acts, many decades later the 66 year-old is still in awe of magic. “It’s like chasing a mirage. Every time you feel you’ve achieved the limit, it stretches,” he says. “Besides, what is magic? When someone is good at something, you say he’s a magician. If he plays the tabla well, he has magic in his fingers.
Someone sings well, she’s got a magical voice,” he says. “Wizardry is a wise man’s art. Magic is a forerunner to science.” The Sorcars are visual scientists. At a time where modern technology has long demystified and taken the fun out of jadoogars, they are travelling the world, leaving audiences enthralled in their wake.
Their secret? Unlike most performers, they’ve befriended technology. “Technology is magic, isn’t it?” he reasons. “When man created fire, did he say, ‘I created fire?’ No, he said, ‘I’ve got a superpower’.
The very concept of mobile phones was pure magic a few decades ago. That’s what technology is. Another name for God.” So he is a believer. “Yes, very much,” he insists. And a philosopher too. “How else is one different from an animal?” asks Maneka. “I believe in evolution,” says Sorcar. “We’re all moving towards the super-being, and mentally, I’m the forerunner,” he laughs.
Sorcar is also a dreamer. “I’m always dreaming. I once wrote a poem about how I was sleeping and dreaming, and when I woke up, I saw myself sleeping. So did I just wake up into reality or go to sleep?” he asks. And no, he isn’t aware of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. “The West borrows a lot of ideas from us, and then the roots are forgotten and we say the West is so evolved,” he says. Maya, after all is an Indian concept, he points out.
The Sorcar’s experiments read like a sci-fi saga, and a clandestine one at that. Like all magicians, they’re highly secretive, but do offer a sneak-peak behind-the-scenes. “We’re not magicians,” Maneka explains. “We’re only playing the role of one. If I had real magic powers, I’d make money out of thin air, and wouldn’t need to sell tickets to my shows. Magic is not mantra-tantra. What we do instead is dream the impossible and make it come alive theatrically. That’s essentially what Indrajaal (The Sorcar’s trademark style of magic) is all about. It’s about indulging your senses. We’re not only 3D, but 5,6,7D,” laughs Maneka.
Needless to say, a lot of research goes on before every show, starting from the kind of audience they expect to the theatre they’re performing in. Every magician has his skeptics, and the controversial man that PC Sorcar Jr is, he has had his fair share. “I keep my skeptics close. They tell me where I’m going wrong so I can improve,” he laughs.
His real challenge, however, isn’t your well-educated rationalist, but the children and the uneducated. He uses a sharpener to devastating effect (devastating for this reporter’s education, i.e.) to demonstrate this. I watch open-jawed as a sharpener the master-magician casually picked up mid-conversation disappears in front of my eyes.
I’m still looking for an explanation, when Sorcar coolly informs me, “Educated people are the easiest to deceive, as you have trained eyes. Your eyes are trained to follow the obvious route,” he smiles, revealing the sharpener is in his other hand. “Your eyes stayed on my right hand, as that’s only obvious,” he says, in an unsuccessful bid to soothe my shattered rationalism.
“A child, or an uneducated person, who has no idea of science or logic, will immediately look everywhere else. My other hand, under the table, in my mouth.” The logic is simple. A child who doesn’t know about gravity will look up to see where the ball has ‘fallen’, while the educated will look down, helping the magician’s ‘trick’ where he has in fact, hidden the ball somewhere up in the ceiling. “Who knew your education actually restricts you from seeing things differently?” sniggers Maneka. Touche.
Sorcar’s Phd in Pschychology, which he has rechristened Applied Magic, comes handy when taking his magic to the next level, his immense understanding of the human mind being his greatest weapon. Magic does have its limitations, however. Once, in the Middle East, he was detained for calling himself a magician, since the local belief is that only Allah is capable of magic. While he got out of that situation by explaining that he’s an actor, there are times when he is tongue-tied.
Sorcar recalls an act where he enabled a lame woman to walk again. “After the show, a lame man came up to me and asked me to help him walk again,” he says, his voice brimming with emotion. “I tried to explain that I couldn’t do it, but the man thought I wouldn’t do it, so he even offered me money in return for my ‘magic’. It was such a slap in the face that I vowed I’d never go down that path again. This is tragic magic,” he says.
He isn’t too fond of the current batch of street magicians like Blaine, Copperfield and Criss Angel either. “Let any of them try performing for real live audiences. The biggest joke is that Western magicians pull a rabbit out of a hat. What use is a rabbit?” he asks. “If I really had magic, I’d pull out food, water, money, medicines, a good government,” he says. Petrol, anyone?
“You will watch my show at least thrice. As a child with your parents, then with your child, and then your grandchildren,” he guarantees. And that’s the essence of Sorcar’s magic. He is still a child. He animatedly enacts the reactions of his audience. “A man begins watching the show, comfortably seated, head resting on the elbow. Halfway through, he’s at the edge of his seat, a look of disbelief on his face,” he says, jumping around in his seat. This is the magician’s journey, where at the end of the show, the audience, magic and reality are one.
Sorcar’s eyes are now glowing bright. “I can feel the weight of my grandfather on me. I’ve built a bridge between me and the audience, to take them to another world altogether,” he says. All you need to do is take the first step.
Rapid fire with PC Sorcar Jr
1. Your favourite hobby?
Teasing my wife
2. Your biggest critic?
3. Your favourite magic trick?
Making food disappear
4. The one trick the world can use right now?
Changing their name to Sorcar. There are only three Sorcars now. Bharat Sarkar, Maharashtra Sarkar and PC Sorcar. Amitabh Bachchan’s Sarkar flopped. He did a movie based on my life story too, Jadugar. It flopped. Magic without emotions doesn’t work. Besides, I don’t chase my wife around trees!
5. If not a magician, what would you have been?
I wouldn’t have been born.
6. Your favourite magic words?
The opposite of ‘Cigam’
(PC Sorcar Jr is performing on the behalf of New Bombay Bengali Association to raise funds for their social program 'Home for Cancer Patients' from June 12 to 18 at Vishnudas Bhave, Vashi. Two shows daily. Call 27823089 for more information)