One of the leading bookstores in Kolkata, Starmark, in association with Penguin, hosted a magical session by Neel Madhav, at its South City Mall outlet on 24 November 2016. Madhav, a charming young man of 23, is India’s youngest and most popular magician, who earned recognition from his television show ‘You Got Magic with Neel Madhav’.
The magical evening commenced with Neel demonstrating some of his amazing sleights of hand which involved a mixture of mentalism, card-tricks and illusions, or ‘Neelusions’, as he liked to call it. Followed by the breathtaking performance which included mind-reading as well as tips on being a lie-detector, Madhav launched his book ‘You Got Magic’, in which he brings out some of the secrets behind his incredible magic tricks, for the readers to learn and amaze their friends and family. The book also takes us down his colourful memory-lane, to the “magical five-and-a-half years of hostel-life at Doon School, Dehradun” as Neel puts it, as well as his enchanting journey across the globe as an aspired teenage magician. Written in reader-friendly language, with the help of his mother Vinita Madhav and filled with vibrant illustrations, the book is an entertaining roller-coaster tour of magic.
After this memorable event, Neel sat for an interactive session, tracing back to how it had all began at Boston, where he had met Jason Randall, whose magic has changed his life. Later, he met James Randi in Goa and further mastered the magical arts under his guidance. Neel also told us how India has been suffering from the dearth of true magic for the past two decades, and how determined he is to bring back the lost magic to our soil, promote it as a separate genre by adding his own flavours of mentalism, neuro-linguistic programming and criminology to it.
He pointed out that most Indian magicians were not committed to their craft, lacked presentation skills and focused more on their ‘cleverness’ and ‘superiority’ than on entertaining the audience. As Neel says, ‘Of course there’s a method behind each trick and the audience knows it, so why worry about how the trick was done?’ He believes that magic like comedy, music or theatre should evolve as a genre to entertain and bring a smile to the viewer. He told us about how Randall’s electrifying performance literally changed his mood in a matter of hours- and how that inspired him to always do his best and put up a great show for his audience.
In a series of Rapid Fire questions asked to him, Neel came up with some of the best answers:
- Magic for him is: The experience that something could exist, but can’t be explained.
- Believe in magic because: It turns tears into a smile. Always.
- Biggest inspiration: Nobody, to be honest. Why follow someone else’s footsteps when you can create your own?
- Personal favourite trick: Changing sand into gold, also transforming leaves into butterflies.
- Most awkward moment on stage: While, performing onstage in an Indian village, a flap of the card stopped working, and he was caught by one of the audiences.
- Future plans: Get started with his 2nd book, also to complete his MBA (which he promised his father for allowing him to pursue magic)
- Message for his Kolkata fans: ‘Keep the magic alive!’
This report was wrtiten by Camellia Paul and Archita Mittra and an edited version was previously published in Voices, The Statesman.