In Western literature and art, India is often idealised as a land of mysticism. The world-renowned Indian magician PC Sorcar turned this idealism into reality with his mesmerising tricks inspired from the country’s rich folk and mystic traditions.
He is the icon who introduced and popularised a completely distinguished facet of magic known as Indrajala (web of illusions), which is a mix of spirituality, philosophy and especially science, without which magic is impossible.
Recently, the wizard’s son PC Sorcar junior, also a celebrated magician who has kept alive the illustrious tradition of his father, launched his book P.C. Sorcar: The Maharaja of Magic. It includes photographs culled from various sources throwing light on the magician and the man behind the scenes.
It is a collection of rare posters, newspaper articles, cartoons, family photos, private papers and facsimiles of honours and awards. “This is just a small piece of expression of the magnificence of PC Sorcar,” humbly said Sorcar junior.
Poet and author Pankaj Saha, who is also the former director of Doordarshan Kendra, struck up a conversation with the magician, which left the audience enriched with a mystifying experience.
During a time when he ran the risk of being tagged as a black magic practitioner and being isolated from society, the glorious PC Sorcar adamantly believed that he was born to wipe away all superstitions from the face of earth. He used to say that he will make people understand that magic is all about entertainment and scientific tricks. It brings a fairyland alive on stage.
“I like to call myself PC Sorcar continuation rather than PC Sorcar junior as my father continues to stay alive in me,” said Sorcar. There come times when situations that are beyond his control always fall into place. What might apparently seem natural coincidences is, to him, his father’s presence.
“I meet him in my imagination every day, talk to him and draw inspiration. My father could always understand whenever I felt down. He patted me on the back, asking me not to worry,” he said.
Sorcar, who would often get overly emotional, shared how his father would always warn him about his vulnerability. To that he used to proudly reply, “If I am not emotional who will be! You won’t understand emotion because your father is not PC Sorcar but my father is.”
His father, who has performed magic worldwide, felt that language can be compared to a machine which doesn’t always reach people perfectly.
Sometimes it just creates noise. But there is the universal language of the soul, which works with expressions and can be easily conveyed to all, irrespective of their dialect.
Sorcar junior believes that one’s growth is influenced by heredity and environment. He had grown up amidst an environment of magic and his father taught him how to convert unreality into reality.
To him, his father himself was a fairytale. “I have grown up seeing my father sitting without a chair, as if floating on air. When I was astonished, he would say that what I am seeing is an illusion and this is his work, to make people witness how reality meets imagination.”
As a child, Sorcar junior dreaded his father’s hard and strict image when it came to studies. But he loved him as the magician PC Sorcar who wore royal attires and entertained on stage. He even felt jealous when his father used to call up on stage boys of his age and perform magic tricks with them.
Talking about his father’s death, he said that he was so shocked with grief when he first saw the dead body, that he thought he was only sleeping. “But gradually I realised that from now on my father has become limitless and is present everywhere and in everything around. Whenever I perform I could feel his presence in the audience before me in thousands of expressions,” he said.
People didn’t accept PC Sorcar as a regular human being. When he died, they believed that he might reappear like he used to while performing in shows, declaring “I am here”.
“They used to stare intently at the sky expecting his return,” he said. Talking about the importance of the letter “M” in his life, Sorcar junior said, “M is my favourite letter. It starts with mother and ends in magic. It enters through my wife Mintu and unfurls in my daughters Maneka, Moubani and Mumtaz.”
When asked why the legacy of the title “PC Sorcar” doesn’t survive in his daughters’ names, he said that they are actually called Parama, Pratiti and Purbita. But they are more emotionally attached with “M”.
“About this my elder daughter Maneka once told me that if she ever performs magic, she won’t call herself Parama. The names ‘PC Sorcar senior’ and ‘PC Sorcar junior’ are associated with such vastness and glory that they must be left unblemished with respect and affection. Rather, she wishes to start a new tradition with M,” he said.
The session can be befittingly summed up in Sorcar junior’s words when he said, “What today is magic tomorrow will become science. What today is science was yesterday magic.”