Magic, as is recognisable today, has been around for almost 5000 years. From the Ancient Egyptians performing tricks like the cup and ball routine to the street magic that is more common now, we've always had a fascination with these performances that are seemingly impossible and make us wonder "how did they do that?" Nakul Shenoy joins Hobbyist World in a conversation about his love for performing magic, and how it kick-started his career as a renowned mentalist.
How and when did you get started with magic?
I was five years old when I came into contact with Mandrake The Magician comic books. I was fascinated that Mandrake could hypnotise people with a wave of his hand and use his magical powers to fight crime. Since then, I was hooked into magic and wanted to be a magician. I learnt magic tricks from various books, practised and rehearsed them, and gave my first public show at age 15. It started as a hobby, but it always felt much more than that.
What is your favourite magic trick?
I like all types of magic, but the ones I love most are those that are interactive and performed with household objects. These are effects that can be performed almost anywhere, at a moment’s notice. My most favourite effect is one where two or three playing cards disappear from one person’s hand and travel invisibly to appear in another person’s hands!
What is your most difficult magic trick?
Prediction effects. Since what is supposed to happen is in ink and held by a spectator, the pressure has already been made, Even the simplest magic tricks can be turned difficult in certain circumstances. So it is important to entertain the audience and have them on your side. The success of Mind Reading type effects is dependent completely on the audience too. After all, only the volunteers know what they are thinking of — and the success of the effect is completely dependent on their saying Yes!
What is your favourite thing about magic?
Magic entertains and fascinates everybody, whatever be their age. It is a wonderful way to connect to people and ensure they remember you in a good way. The best thing about magic is that it can be performed almost anywhere, with anything.
What is the most rewarding part of doing magic?
You have to put in a lot of effort to perform a magic trick well. A lot of learning and repeated practice goes into making the tricks into magical performances. But once that has been achieved the response and admiration that people give — be it friends, colleagues or complete strangers — is unmatched! And this is most rewarding. Really, there is no better hobby than Magic!
How would one learn how to do magic?
I learnt to perform magic from books and my recommendation still remains: learn from the books. They provide you with different perspectives and best of all, the hundreds and thousands of effects in the magic books help create unique performances and acts.
Can you tell us something that people may not know about magic?
Everybody loves magic. Adults love magic! Much as many loudly proclaim that they don’t like magic that and that magic is for kids, they are really the first to be amazed and entertained by a good magic effect. And once entertained, they turn the loudest fans!
What's one piece of advice you'd give budding magicians?
Do not try to learn from YouTube videos. Most of those teaching magic there are newbies themselves, and it will only spoil your learning process. Learn from magic books or from teach-in videos of top magicians. And of course, practice, practice, and practice. Perfect your act, and then only perform for others.
Nakul Shenoy is a leading mentalist and magician and has been performing magic since age 15. Based in Bangalore, he performs his unique Mind Reading shows for top corporates around the world. He is the author of ‘Smart Course in Magic’ published by Harper Collins, a book that which teaches people the easy and correct way to learn and entertain with magic.