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Indian magic is best known for the rope trick. But that was centuries ago. Does the magician need to get his act together, asks Sunday Times
Insiya Amir | TNN
Illusionist Satish Deshmukh, who earns as much as Rs 22 lakh for a 15-minute show for company events, says most Indian magicians aren’t doing well because they pay little heed to presentation. ‘‘We cannot expect to survive on live shows. There needs to be some innovation,’’ he says. Deshmukh, who was a police inspector before he took up magic, now owns a studio of illusion and has even signed a contract with BAG films.
But all isn’t going swimmingly. BAG films is unable to sell his shows because, as Deshmukh says, ‘‘television channels don’t want to pay up. Nowadays, it is more economical to get American magician David Blaine than an Indian one.’’
But Deshmukh, who’s also writing a book on the state of Indian magic, says there are reasons India is less willing to be transported to another world on a magical flying carpet of illusion.
For one, India still associates the word ‘magician’ with a P C Sorcar-lookalike and audiences are resistant to new shows. ‘‘The Indian rope trick was perhaps the last innovation in India. After that, there’s been no evolution in magic,’’ Deshmukh says wryly, in a reference to the spectacular, disputed but centuries-old form of stage magic.
Also, unlike the West, where a magic show is another form of entertainment, Indian audiences mainly focus on finding out how the trick is performed.
Turn on the magic...Poof! Be a showman
May 12: A magic show must be the only place in the world where you pay to be deceived, and feel cheated if you are not. But one magician is not content with just befuddling the overawed watcher.
The president of IAM - India (International Academy of Magic), Satish Deshmukh's bag of tricks is overflowing with yet another innovative concept: the use of magic as therapy.
Magic and therapy? While it may sound esoteric and implausible, the underlying logic is rational enough. The reasoning is any magic performance needs confidence, a sense of timing, fluidity of body movements, group coordination, creative thinking and rhetorical prowess to dazzle the audience. ``These are the very abilities needed to edge you ahead in a competitive world,'' says Deshmukh. And he believes that magic can instill these qualities effortlessly and rapidly. ``People are fascinated by magic, and their curiosity ensures that they learn fast.'' He believes that if you can imagine the invisible, you achieve the impossible. And magic has this uncanny ability of increasing your power to visualise the unseen.
Deshmukh's 52nd magic-workshop at the Bandra Hindu Association Hall, to take off later this week, is open to students, executives, marketing people and anyone who's interested in overhauling their personality. The aim is not to convert the participants into practising magicians, but to instill the creative approach of magic in their daily lives. ``I teach them enough tricks to hold an impromptu magic show of 90 minutes, if they want to,'' he says.
The participants are limited to 20 in order to give them his individual attention. They are taught more than 400 magic tricks and given backgrounders on the principles on which they work palming, misdirection, miscueing and doctored equipment. Also included are briefings and on stage management techniques, oration, presentation skills and other related topics. Diplomas are awarded only on the completion of a satisfactory stage performance on the final day. Deshmukh is confident that his approach works.
After all, he has trained over 20,000 participants in the past 15 years and two of his students figure in the The Guinness Book and the Limca Book. He has to his credit the SAARC Award in '88, the National Youth Award '90, the Outstanding Person of the World Award in '96 and other local awards. He is holding a show with Sanjna Kapoor this month and with Maneka Gandhi sometime next month. Under him, the IAM has prospered and established a full-fledged academy in Nasik for advanced studies in magic. Spread over five acres of land, the Rs 3.5 crore establisment contains hostels, research centres, classrooms, and auditoriums, and can accomodate 200 students.
In addition to using magic to lift sagging shoulders, IAM is also working on giving fashion a magical touch. In an offbeat experiment, it is organising a fashion show peppered with disappearing acts next month. A couple of other interesting projects have been held up due to lack of sponsors. The first is to make the Gateway of India vanish in front of TV cameras and incredulous eyes.
The other is far more hair-raising and bizzare. Deshmukh will lock his assistant in a box, weld it shut, and then carry it to the terrace of one of the high-rise buildings at Nariman Point. The box will be flung down, and when it lands on the pavement far below, Deshmukh promises that it will explode and out of the smoke will emerge the assistant, unscathed and with a big grin on his face.
Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. Saturday, April 28, 2001
By Jasmine Shah Varma
When the reality of the crime world became too unbearable, Satish Deshmukh turned to the world of magic. And here, the Mumbai-based magician earned a name for himself as the best teacher of magic in the country. Teaching magic to anyone outside the family of magicians is like opening up the secrets of wizardry - that is why it has traditionally not been taught to all and sundry. What gives the magician his status is that he knows the trick and you don’t.
Does a magician really hide a flock of pigeons under his black coat sleeves? How does he levitate a person in mid-air? Can he really read your mind when he guesses the card you have thought of but haven’t revealed to any one? Is magic all about performing on stage or can it be applied in real life too?
Now you can get answers to these and more queries because Deshmukh looks at the profession of magic differently. He says, “Since childhood I was drawn to magic but nobody taught me. I learnt by observing other magicians. So I thought why not teach others now that I know.”
Deshmukh proudly claims, “Other magicians, who started teaching after they saw my success, teach magic, I don’t.” So what, is he fooling the gullibles who want to learn a few magic tricks? No...it is just that he markets his workshops differently. He says, “I develop an individual’s personality through the use of magic.” International Academy of Magic is the name of his company under which he holds the workshops that promise to enhance confidence and communication skill through personality development using magic.
Magic, he says, is all about presentation and performance rather than the trick itself. Anybody can learn what the trick is just by observing closely, but to perform it convincingly and make it appear like magic is crucial. “You have to confuse the audience and make them believe in you,” he stresses. Another important aspect of performing magic is time management on stage. Swift actions and agility is part of a magic show.
The intense training he gives during the five-day workshop assures that his students can perform an-hour long professional show on stage. But Deshmukh’s specialty is the contemporary, corporate look unlike the ‘maharaja’ look that the likes of PC Sorcar adorn. He likes to believe that he is totally past the traditional approach to magic in India.
The training involves optical and mechanical illusion, sleight of hand and close-up and living room tricks. Deshmukh conducts special lectures on building a good rapport with people through communication skills, which can help not just those who want to learn magic but also those in the fields of marketing, image-building and crime detection. In fact, he attributes his success to, “my communication skills. Even if I hadn’t learnt magic it would have been okay, but PR is very important.” That’s an honest confession from the magician who believes that what he does is not limited to sleight of hand but application as well. For instance, he has used magic tricks for solving criminal cases for the police.
But what happens when you know what the element of ‘magic’ is in the magic? In other words are there any surprises in magic after knowing it inside out. Deshmukh solves the irony: “The surprise is in the presentation. The crucial aspect of magic is not what you do, but how you do it.” Isn’t that true of other fields of life as well?
Is Kher's sacking politically motivated?
By: Satish Deshmukh
October 22, 2004
It is said that artists are born. Anupam Kher is one of the best talents in the country.
All great artists have not taken a leaf out of the book but added one in. They do not copy but create.
Kher has added one such page by his decision.
As an artist myself, I feel that artists are never interested in position and power but always in respect and appreciation.
As an artist by profession, whenever they play any role, they play it very sincerely.
Kher, I am sure, played the role of censor chief very sincerely and he has paid a price for that.
It is ridiculous that a man of the stature of Anupam Kher has been labeled as an RSS man and not allowed to complete his term as the censor board chief.
An artiste cannot be tied down like a dog to any ideological group. He is free as a bird and should be allowed to take his own decisions, which he considers best for the industry.
More so, because he has been with the industry for decades together. The politicians are making a mockery of themselves because one government asks Kher to join and another asks him to resign as chairperson of the censor board.
It is nothing but a dirty game of politics. I don’t think there should be any political interference of any kind in such decisions.
Why don’t the political parties and leaders take a look at themselves first? Unfortunately, not a single political party is stable and strong in this country.
There are no true leaders who have morals and value. It is very apt that Kher has taken this matter into the public domain and to the courts. The courts will make a decision as to what is fair and what is not.
CBD Belapur Sector 3 resident Satish Deshmukh is an actor-director and a renowned illusionist.
Satish Deshmukh is featured in a Mid Day article that quotes him, "My family was aghast, but magic has given me money, fame and satisfaction." The article also reported that, "Deshmukh is preparing for a show scheduled for June, where he plans to create an illusion of a woman getting pregnant and giving birth, while levitating. This show will be held in Mumbai, followed by another in the US." To read the May 23 article by Lina Choudhury-Mahajan titled "His magic solves crime" click: HERE <http://www.mid-day.com/metro/bandra/2003/may/53679.htm>.(5/26)
Personality development workshop
Hungama TV, the recently launched first 24 hour Hindi children’s entertainment channel promoted by UTV, organised a 11 city unique personality development workshop with renowned illusionist Satish Deshmukh exclusively for the cable operators children. Deshmukh honed the communication skills of the particpants through a repertoire of magic tricks to enhance their confidence and communication skills.
The industry initiative undertaken for the children of cable operators is to provide children quality entertainment keeping the HQ- Hungama Quotient fact in tact, have made children an integral part of all key decisions from research to programming.
Deccan Herald, Thursday, October 07, 2004
Satish Deshmukh is a medical magician. Which doesn’t mean he is a medical wizard; it’s the other way round - he’s a magician who heals through his art. A professional illusionist, Deshmukh applies his abracadabra skills to treat and heal patients suffering from a wide range of illnesses including strokes, spinal cord injuries, arthritis, head and brain injuries, mental illness, chronic pain, severe burns, learning disabilities and substance abuse. Nor is he a quack: his "magic therapy" is approved by the all-India Occupational Therapy Association and he often performs his wonders in tandem with professional physicians, physical therapists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists.
"I have thousands of tricks up my sleeve for hospitalised children and adults. For example the ‘billiard balls’ trick is particularly useful for patients with paralysis. I used it to cure my father within seven days of the ill effects of paralysis," reveals the Mumbai-based Deshmukh. Likewise his rope and coin tricks have performed wonders for mentally challenged children.
Besides being a professional illusionist-cum-healer, Deshmukh likes to describe himself as an educator and trainer. For the past two decades he has been conducting magic workshops to train children, adults and anyone interested in developing their personality through the use of magic. They have benefited teens who are anti-social, mentally challenged, or suffer depression and attention-deficit disorders.
Deshmukh has been practicing and performing magic from the age of nine, when he staged his first show. Ever since, he knew he wanted to become a professional magician. But in deference to his family’s wishes, he completed his graduation in 1981 and also enrolled for an M.Sc. Subsequently he spent three years travelling and learning magic.
Besides working with children and the sick, Deshmukh also imparts motivational and productivity therapies to corporate executives. He designs magic-cum-motivation shows with different themes, depending on the needs of client corporates. His clients include Novartis India, Siemens, Unichem and Ford Motors. "These are not conventional magic shows, but are used by the human resource departments of client companies to train, retrain, motivate and stimulate executive performance," says Deshmukh.
His abracadabra is also utilised by the law enforcement authorities to solve crimes including murder, rape and robbery. "I regularly advise the police and help them to solve crimes," he avers. But sadly despite his unusual combination of professional skills, Deshmukh feels unappreciated. "In western countries magicians like David Copperfield are as respected and rich as any professional. On the other hand, magic is not seriously regarded as a profession in India."
Not one to accept this unacceptable situation, Deshmukh has drawn up a blueprint to promote Academy of Magic and Allied Arts in Nashik, Maharashtra to train young people in the art of healing through the magic of magic.
Mona Barbhaya (Mumbai)
Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.