QUEEN'S ROAD: How much can you tell about a person when you meet him or her for the first time? For the average human being to venture a couple of educated guesses, it takes at least a few coffee shop meetings. But on his first meeting with you, Narpath Raman, better known as the ‘next door mind reader’, can tell you who the most important person in your life is. And more.
Narpath, who quit his job to pursue his passion, mind reading, talks to City Express about why and how he does what he does. Excerpts:
How did mentalism happen to you?
I did my mechanical engineering and joined an IT company, like any other normal guy. I worked for almost a year and did not like it. Then I thought consulting or management was maybe my passion. I joined a consulting firm and worked for two years. Meanwhile, I started watching a lot of magic trick videos on YouTube. First, I learned a trick, a small car trick. That became a habit. So every day after office, I learned a trick and performed it in front of the people in my apartment complex. That’s how it all started.
How did you realise mind reading was your passion?
I started approaching people and did some street magic with mind reading. I have done a lot of that stuff in Koramangala and Indiranagar. Somewhere along the line, I realised that mentalism had started to mean something deep for me. I quit the job and started mind reading full-time about six months ago. There is a lot of market for someone like me as there are like 12 mind readers in the country. I am planning to go on an all-India tour one day.
How did your family react when you quit your job?
My family lives in Chennai. I shifted to Bengaluru three years ago. They wanted me to study in a B-school abroad. Earlier, that is what I thought I wanted to too. When I quit my job, I didn’t have the guts to tell my family about it. My mother couldn’t understand what a mentalist is. I even tried to go their way and joined MBA classes. But all I could think of was magic. Even during classes, I would dream about doing some trick. Finally, I mustered the courage to quit and told my family I would take a year’s break and try to make it as a mentalist. If I fail, I can always go back.
How did you sharpen the mental and intuitive abilities needed for mentalism?
I started with the street stuff. The street is where you can learn psychology. Apart from that, I would go to coffee shops, order a coffee and watch people, read their body language. I could get a sense of their mood, and understand if it was the right time to approach them. I learned that from David Blaine (American magician, illusionist and endurance artist). I adore him. He took my street magic to a whole new world.
Mentalists don’t usually mix magic tricks with mentalism as they believe they are two different forms of art. How do you relate the two?
To be a good mentalist, you have to be a good magician. You cannot directly jump to mentalism. Magic is visual. Mentalism is a different kind of magic. You can call it mind magic. It is personal. Magic is where you learn showmanship, acting. Acting is also involved in mentalism. When I perform, it could be a trick but I make it look real. From magic, you slowly evolve into mentalism. I believe mentalism is not for everyone. There are no props here. Magic always has props and anyone can do it. In mind reading, spectators are the props. The more personal you make it, the more entertaining it gets. Mentalism is about the spectators, not the showman.
Tell us a little about your shows.
I have done two shows. One was at the Rangasthala auditorium on MG Road in July. The second one was there as well, just two weeks ago. Both were pretty successful, houseful shows. I am planning to do a big event in Chennai and then in Bengaluru again. I do different tricks in every show. I call my show ‘Brain Brewery’ and I am doing it as a series. I am planning to do 15 shows.
Mentalists are rare in India. What are the challenges you face?
There are plenty of challenges. Selling mind reading in India is tough. When I say I am a mentalist, people do not understand what I mean till I do a show, perform a trick. People might have heard of David Blaine or David Copperfield but no one has really heard of any Indian mentalists. I am going to make it easier for them, they can say my name when they are asked about mentalists in India (laughs). I know I am ambitious, but I see a lot of market here for mentalists.