At a time when people are engrossed in gadgets and are living in the world of internet, magicians say, their art is not losing its charm, but on the contrary, it is attracting audiences and is still very popular.
S N Guruswamy, who has been entertaining people, especially students across the state for almost three decades, said that despite all distractions of television and the social media, the art of magic is growing. “In fact, the new media has only popularised magic among people. They are attracted towards magic shows after seeing them on television or Youtube. Magic is an experience in itself when one is present physically in the show,” he said.
World Magic Day is celebrated on October 31 to mark Houdini Day, when Harry Houdini’s wife presented a trophy in his honour in 1927, following his death on October 31, 1926. Harry Houdini was a famous American magician, known for his escape artistry, varying from escaping from chains, ropes, handcuffs and straightjackets while dangling in the air above his audience, to escaping from a locked milk can, filled with water.
Guruswamy said, “Magic is a performing art that entertains through the creation of illusions of seemingly insurmountable or supernatural feats using natural means. There are different types of magic performances. They are: Stage illusions, Parlour magic, Platform magic, Micromagic, Escapology, Pickpocket magic, Mentalism, Theatrical seances, Children’s magic, Online magic tricks, Mathemagic, Corporate magic or trade show magic, Gospel magic, Street magic, Bizarre magic, Shock magic and Comedy magic.”
He said magic had its origin in India far earlier than in any part of the world. “The travel accounts of people from across the world, in the sixth and seventh centuries, have the first reference of the disappearing act and other forms of magic in India. However, the art is much older in India, as it has its roots in spirituality and folklore. Many artists have passed on the art from one generation to the next, by word of mouth, without documenting. Thus, many great artists have gone unnoticed,” said Guruswamy.
“Besides, many artists have become victims to their own egos and vices. Where there is creativity, there is weakness. Thus, many have suffered towards the fag end of their career. Most of them have died without somebody to inherit their legacy,” he said.
“I am a farmer from Someshwarapura under Varuna hobli of Mysuru taluk. After completing my education, I went into films out of passion. However, I had an inclination towards magic since my schooldays, when I had seen the art for the first time. Through a contact in the films, I met my guru Nagesh. Even while I was staging my shows independently, I would assist Nagesh during his shows for over two decades. I have trained around a dozen
magicians so far. At present, a retired headmaster of a government school, Prabhuswamy from Tarikere, is learning the art from me,” said Guruswamy.
“Many children also show interest in learning the art. But, I teach magic to only those who want to stage shows. Besides, the training should not affect the children’s education,” he said.
A bachelor by choice, Guruswamy, who lives in his native village when he does not have shows, said, he loves performing for children.
“I do a lot of shows in schools and NSS camps. Institutions of the Suttur mutt, lead by Shivaratri Deshikendra Swami, have encouraged me a lot. Even though I teach new tricks to my students, I still bank on my old tricks. The joy of making my audience happy keeps me going,” he said.