I want you to think of a city anywhere in the world,” says mentalist C A Praveen. The participant, Ramesh Menon, closes his eyes and nods. “Now write it on a piece of paper,” says Praveen. Ramesh does so. “Now fold it and keep it in your pocket,” says the mentalist.
With his back to Ramesh, Praveen writes something in black letters on a white board. Then he turns and shows the words, ‘New York’, to Ramesh, whose eyes widen in surprise.
In his show The Sixth Sense, held at Kochi, Praveen, 52, amazes the audience by being able to predict, with unerring accuracy, whatever people have drawn or thought. In one segment, Praveen asks a volunteer to come on stage. He then gives him five editions of The New Indian Express. “Select any edition,” he says.
The man does so. Then one page is pulled out by the man and torn into four, and finally eight parts. Then the volunteer mentally selects a word from one of the torn pieces and writes it on a piece of paper.
Meanwhile, sometime earlier, Praveen had given an envelope to a girl sitting on the front row. He now asks her to open the envelope and read out the word. It is the same as the one on the piece of paper held by the volunteer.
“That is why I love mentalism,” says Praveen. “The difference between magic and mentalism is that when I do a magic item, I know how it is going to start, the course, as well as the ending. But in mind reading, I have no idea of what is going to happen next.”
But the cherry on the cake was when Praveen bent spoons, in the manner of the famed Israeli psychic Uri Geller, by using his will power. To Praveen’s credit, before the show begins, he categorically states that he has no supernatural powers nor is he a psychic who can read a person’s mind.
“My method is to observe the body language, use scientific techniques and put subliminal suggestions into the sub-conscious mind,” he says. However, that does not explain how he bends spoons or predicts accurately the words that a person is thinking.
Praveen, a Malayali, graduated in engineering from the Thangal Kunju Musaliar College of Engineering, Kollam, and joined the Indian Navy. A passion for magic ensured that he performed regularly during Naval functions. Over a period of time, he realised that his inner calling was to be an entertainer. So, on August 16, 2000, much against the wishes of the seniors and colleagues in the Navy, as well as his parents and relatives, he quit the Navy after 13 years. The fact that his wife had a regular job (as a psychiatrist) helped. “So there was a back-up,” he says.
In retrospect, the gamble was well worth it. Today, Dubai-based Praveen does regular shows in Britain, Japan, South Africa, Kenya, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and India.
When asked the secret of his skill, Praveen replies, “There are three golden rules: practice, practice and practice. Once you learn a method you should be able to do it blindfolded. To reach that stage, you have to work at it hundreds of times.”
So, it is hardly surprising that Praveen has excelled in his field and won international acclaim. In 2012, he won The Merlin Award for the Best Corporate Mentalist and Magician and was also inducted into the Hall Of Fame of the International Magicians Society.
His love for magic remains undiminished. “When I am on stage, I am the happiest person,” he says.