Science or magic?

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Tricks up his sleeve  Ugesh Sarcar on ‘Third Degree’.

For someone who — from age four — grew up watching his father cut his mother into three pieces, Ugesh is quite the regular guy. If you run into him around Fun World, close to where his office is, he is just another slim, long haired Bangalorean, much younger looking than the 31 he says he is. He laughs easily. He cracks jokes. And he gives sharp answers that leave the interviewer with a smile on the face.

 But, on national television, when he slips into his dark-eyed, kohl lined, wild haired Gothic attired avatar and starts performing those apparently death defying acts of blindfold driving, putting spikes through his body, levitation from one building to another and what have you, it is easy to believe that this fierce, temperamental super human is capable of all the magic he himself passes off as science.

Ugesh laughs at that. “Yes, in real life, I’m quite opposite to what I appear on television. I’m a regular fun guy who loves to play pranks.” His first memories of magic? “Watching dad chop mom and actually being placed between the pieces of her torso?” And did that scar his psyche forever? “No,” he says, “it never scared me. I knew it was magic.” And that’s how the bug bit him.

“As far back as I remember, I always wanted to be a magician. Never anything else.” That’s understandable since the man comes from a family of magicians. So, I’m curious to know, are there acts of magic happening in the house all the time? Say, eggs being pulled out of kids’ ears at the breakfast table. Or flower bouquets being conjured out of thin air with just a wave of the hand, if there’s a sudden party to attend.

“Never,” he is quick to tick me off. “I don’t do that kind of magic. In fact, we don’t do magic at all in the house. Whatever magic is there is in people’s heads.” At least with him, that’s happening all the time, he says. For all his casual, carefree personality, most of the times he is thinking up new acts and finding ways to perform those.

“Magic needs determinations and constant practice. It is an art, just like singing or dancing,” he says. But, more dangerous? With acts like the Wine Barrel, where he is locked up and suspended 100 meters above the ground with just a minute to get out. “Well, yes. But constant practice takes the risk out of it.” In the ongoing show
on television, he promises some amazing acts.

“There are big tricks in the offing. I might be dropping my head to my stomach soon,” he says. But wherever his head may be, his heart seems to be in the right place. Ugesh does a lot of magic with people infected with AIDS, cancer and the differently abled. “The idea is to make them smile, give them some moments of fun when they are not thinking about their illness,” he says.

A big challenge came some time back when he was invited to perform for some differently abled children. His team went there to discover that 30 per cent of the children were visually impaired and would not be able to see what he was doing. “For a while I wondered how we would perform since my acts need to be seen.”
Finally, a volunteer was seated next to each sightless child and kept explaining to them what was happening onstage. “We would take pigeons and whatever was involved in the magic to the children to feel and touch. Believe me, they were the ones who had the most fun,” he says.  

In a country where superstitions abound, magicians are often revered as demi-gods. Ugesh admits he gets people who come to him with psychological problems who feel better just by talking to him. “But I make it a point to tell my audience that what they see are just tricks and magic is mostly science.”
Though, he admits, he never explains how the tricks are done. “That takes the thrill out of magic.”

Quick five

Do you believe in magic?

Yes. To me the greatest magician is god. The sun comes up in the morning; the moon shows up at night... what can be more magical than that?
What if someone told you that’s science?
I would still say it’s magic.

If you had to choose between real life and magic, what would you pick?

Magic! It has the power to put a smile on someone’s face. It’s more exciting.

A moment when you wished you could actually do magic?

Lots of times. When I see poor and hungry people on the road, when I see people killed in an act of violence, I wish I had the power to turn that around.

What’s so special about the television show Ugesh Sarcar’s ‘3rd Degree’ on UTV Bindass?

I’m there in it!

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