The Weekend Artist
July 1, 2017 Magic magic

Behind Magic: A magician spills the beans

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A second generation magician reveals what goes behind creating a Magic Act

Magic behind the scenes Rahul Kharbanda

Where’s F- 20, I ask the car parking guy in Delhi’s western suburb of Moti Nagar. The magic wala house? — he asks me. Walk straight and then take a left and once you enter the colony, ask anyone, and they’ll guide you — he tells me. A 10-minute walk from the Metro station takes me to a house that looks no different than a typical Delhi kothi — a three storey building, with an office located in the basement. Inside, a casually dressed Rahul Kharbanda sits working on a computer and his father Ashok Kharbanda is busy signing some papers. The office may easily be mistaken for a real estate agency or a law firm. It’s only when you Google the Kharbandas that you realise that the looks of the family members are as deceptive as their house.

Related: Watch David Blaine perform unreal stunts with celebs

In reality, the Kharbandas can make people disappear, create a woman from an iPad in the middle of nowhere and float above ground to the amusement of the witnessing audiences. But even though their acts create the illusion of possessing supernatural powers, Rahul, a magician and illusionist, asserts is that magic is an unbelievable idea made presentable with the help of techniques and their execution. We talk to the second generation magician and attempt to decipher the idea of magic.

“In my 17 years of practising magic and studying masters from across the globe, I have never encountered anyone who has supernatural powers,” he says as he defines Magic in relatively simple words as “impossible made possible” for the “audience witnessing it”.

Magic behind the scenes

And each of the words in quotes is crucial as he describes further. According to Rahul, in any magic show, there is a frame — a window from where the audience watches the show. The idea appears magical only through that frame. Change the frame and the idea is no magic. Because outside the frame, there are mechanisms, techniques and scientific equipment that make the idea look real. The skill of a magician and his team is to conceal the mechanism so as to make the idea look magical and impossible.

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Levitation is a common magic trick performed by masters across the globe. But according to Rahul, there is a mechanism that makes it possible to levitate individuals. Someone may use ropes, another may use hydraulics. But once the mechanism is mastered, one can levitate one, two, five, ten individuals and the display looks grander, more magical and more unreal. “So yes, ideas are magical but the challenge for a magician is to create non-recognisable mechanisms that make these ideas become real. Once the mechanism is in place, anyone with magician’s acumen can execute it.”
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But David Blaine and magicians of his league look different — we argue. They seem to possess supernatural powers. Else, how can one tie shoe laces without touching or even bending down? Or for that matter stay breathless for 17 odd minutes and stay at sub-zero temperatures for three days?
“The execution of acts may create an illusion that the individual presenting them possesses otherworldly powers, but in reality, it is just an idea well executed. A magician is a product — the face of the collective effort of creativity, technique and teamwork that goes behind presenting a difficult-to-perceive idea. And that is probably the reason why most magicians who produce television series produce their own shows. What a David Blaine does may appear supernatural to many, but to many in the profession, it is an amazing execution of a brilliant mechanism that creates astonishing make- believe effects,” he says.Busy integrating technology with magic, Rahul and his brother have created an app which simplifies tricks for magic enthusiasts. While street magic and grand magic shows are still a rarity in India, he hopes for a day when magic will occupy the much-deserved centre stage in the world of entertainment. “Till that happens, there is an opportunity to become the David Blaine of India,” he smiles.
Magic behind the scenes Rahul Kharbanda
Behind Magic with Rahul Kharbanda

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4 thoughts on “Behind Magic: A magician spills the beans

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