Do you remember the absolute thrill of watching your first magic show? The showman who mesmerised the crowd made it a memorable experience for you. After all, rustling up surprise elements, and slowly building suspense to unveil the eureka moment is part of the job description. Success is all about inspiring a deep sense of wonder in spectators, leaving them wondering about the rationality of the inexplicable event that unfolds in front of their eyes. Manoj Kaushal alias Mandy, the magician and breezy host of Pick-a-Trick, a show on Nickelodeon, reveals how he got hooked to the world of magic and illusion.
How did you find your passion?
Everyone gets fascinated with magic. When you watch a show, you always want to know how the magician does it. Whenever I watched one, I always thought some day I would like to do that. I was able to realise my passion over a period of time.
When did you learn your first trick?
I bought my first book — 101 Magic Tricks — at a book stall. That’s where I picked up a card trick based on mathematical concepts.
How did you shape your career?
I used to work in an advertising agency. I didn’t know whether I would be able to make a career out of magic. Then a couple of years later, I took a spontaneous decision to follow my passion. What genre of magic do you specialise in?
Well there are three genres in magic — close-up, conjuring and illusion. I perform all three, but I love doing close-up because it’s interactive. Everything takes place in front of the audience, they are shaken up and I get to watch their reactions.
Can you describe your first stage performance?
My first performance was for an event hosted by Coca Cola. I was nervous. It was the first time I was performing for people I didn’t know. I had only done gigs for friends and family till then. Once I got on stage, I forgot about everything. After the show people said they loved it. When they asked me how I did it I knew I had done a good job.
Have you had whacky experiences while hosting Pick-a-Trick?
Well, the show itself is quite spontaneous, I meet people, show them magic tricks and teach them how I do it. It’s not a controlled environment, they are no actors. I remember once I was doing a vanishing coin trick at a mall. I had to make the coin vanish and pull it out of a spectator’s pocket. When I pulled out the coin from a kid’s pocket, he began yelling at the crew. We were all left speechless!
If you had to pick your favourite magic trick, what would it be?
It’s difficult to pick one.
What were you like as a kid? Did you always want to be a magician?
I wanted to walk on the moon. I wanted to do a lot of things when I was a kid. Magic was one of those things. I was lucky to be able to pursue my dream.