Meet Karan Singh! A magician who doesn’t flaunt age-old tricks like pulling rabbits out of hats or cutting people into halves. He plays with your mind. Describing himself as a ‘psychological illusionist’, for Karan, magic is all about decoding the human mind and behaviour. And oh, this alumnus of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London is among the first to combine art forms like theatre and comedy to create his own unique genre of magic.
Karan is currently touring the country with his theatrical magic show, which has a storyline and the audience as the actors. Read on to know more about this ‘illusion’.
What is Magic according to you? What are the different genres of Magic that exist today?
“The different genres of magic are very much like different genres of music. Everybody has sort of their own taste. The age-old magic tricks are beginning to die a slow death in India. It has pretty much died in the West.
To me, magic is anything that can question and entertain at the same time. In a very weird way, it is the most intellectual art form there is because as opposed to other art forms, you are seeing something you can’t explain and at the same time you are entertained. So there is an interesting thing to it. And I think everyone has a fascination with magic. It’s just that after you cross a certain age, the age-old idea doesn’t appeal to you. But with the new forms like mentalism and hypnosis coming in, magic is becoming cool again.”
I agree with magic having the universal quality of fascinating one and all. But somehow, it has remained a niche art form world over. Why do you think there are such few magicians even today?
” The reason why there are such few magicians is because you have to work on multiple things. It’s not just the tricks you have to work on. Once you know the tricks, going out and performing them is a whole different ballgame. It becomes a performance as opposed to just doing the trick. So some people are fantastic at the tricks but really bad at the performance part of it. Hence, they are not entertaining the people watching them. And because you have to work on so many different things together, more often than not, people tend to give up half way through as it becomes really difficult learning all the moves, learning the technicalities of magic tricks, learning the secrets behind it and then working on the presentation and showmanship of it as well.”
Is that why you went to acting school? To hone your showmanship skills?
“Yes. Since showmanship became more important, I went to theatre school in London. And the learning I got from there has not just helped me on stage but also making the shows as I got a lot of writing experience for the shows. So the theatre education has been really important in forming the rest of the career that I have had.
Also, every show of mine has a story and because it’s audience participation, the story can go anywhere. But I know where I have to take the story. So automatically people are acting in the story without realising that they are doing that. So it’s theatre all the way.”
You have also studied Neuro Linguistic Programming…
“NLP is more often used by hypnotherapists to help people battle an illness. I figured you can use a similar word pattern that the hypnotherapists are using and apply that to entertain. So I pick up on body language and form my sentences in a particular way that I can plant an idea in someone’s head. So just by talking, you can make people think of certain things. So that became the crux of NLP, after which I also became a certified practitioner of hypnosis and picked up a few things from there as well.”
You have mastered the techniques of mind reading. But have you ever gone wrong with your observations in a live show?
“Yes, plenty of times. But again, the insisting thing is that I call myself a ‘psychological illusionist’. So when the psychology part of it fails – when I can’t figure out what someone’s thinking – I always have a trick to fall back on to. And when the trick begins, it’s a 100 percent worker. The idea is not to let people know that the psychology has stopped and the trick has begun.”
With such an interesting process, magic has certainly taken a leap. How do you see the art form evolving ?
“Well, magic as an art form is definitely growing. Like stand-up comedy, I started an open mic in Mumbai for magic and mentalism recently. There were a number of magicians who came and performed there. I know around 100 to 200 magicians in India who are doing this. It’s just that they don’t get a stage to perform at as magic is still not a very widely accepted art form. With the comedy boom happening, so many people have hopped on to comedy. But there will come a time when people will get bored with comedy and they will look for other art forms. I am guessing magic will be the next thing they turn to.”
What are the key things, which are an absolute must to become a magician?
“I think patience would be the key virtue. Because there are so many things one has to learn. As I said it’s not just about learning tricks. Apart from that, it’s really important to be passionate about the art form as it’s something that requires a lot of your time. You have to continue working on different skills even if you are sitting at home. The most beautiful thing about magic is that you will always see a trick which will baffle you. Even if you are David Blaine. So you have to keep watching other magicians and that’s going to make you a better performer.”
Lastly, at this point in life, what is it that you want to #GetMore of?
“I think the tour that I am doing right now, that I am ending in Hyderabad. Taking a show and touring it across the country is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. But this tour has just been for a month and a half as I have to get back to corporate shows to earn a living. My dream would be to take shows to different parts of the country and tour for around six to seven months in a year and make that as a source of living.”
Catch Karan Singh Live on 6th August, Sunday at Hyderabad’s Heart Cup Coffee – Begumpet and experience the magic.
Source for all Images and Videos: Karan Singh