KOCHI: Waiting at a popular cafe in the heart of the city, one would be anxious if one is meeting a mentalist for the first time. But twenty-two-year-old Arjun Guru puts me at ease, even as he makes himself comfortable in his seat at the cafe and says, “I am a psychological illusionist.”
The Kochi-based illusionist hosted Macabre on Halloween at Nosh Haus, Aluva, on October 31.
Prior to the event, Arjun set straight the goals about the show. According to him, mentalism is all about psychology, body language and deception. “A lot of guesswork is involved but it is all logic-based. The presentation is also important,” says Arjun. He says mentalism is picking up pace now. “I believe mentalism is at a point where standup comedy was six years ago. People knew it existed but it wasn’t that popular,” he says.
The self-taught illusionist is no stranger to the tricks out of the hat. “I used to do magic since I was in school. After Class 10, I shifted to mentalism. It was a gradual shift but it became appealing to me,” says Arjun. Though he always knew where his heart was, it took some time to convince his parents. After school, Arjun moved to Delhi for his graduation. “I didn’t have the permission from my parents to perform. Initially, they were upset. But once they realised that I was serious about it and that this was not a phase, they were okay with my career choice,” he says.
However, things were not easy for him. “It is an art form that is still gaining in popularity. There aren’t a lot of mentalists who do this seriously. It is something one needs to figure out on one’s own,” says Arjun. His biggest inspirations are the UK-based mentalist Derren Brown and Karan Singh Magic.
There have been occasions when he had to learn tricks and turns the hard way. During his time in college at Delhi, he was supposed to perform at a carnival. “
I wanted to do something original. I prepared the script for the set where I am guessing someone’s ATM pin while solving the Rubik’s cube at the same time. On the day, in front of a hundred people, I had four random persons thinking of single digits and I guessed all of them wrong. I didn’t know what to do. By then I had almost finished solving the cube.
I had originally planned to end the set quoting Sherlock Holmes, ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’ Clearly, I wasn’t fooling anybody. Still, I went on to say these lines and then walked off the stage. There was a stunned silence.”
Having faced his worst nightmare, Arjun began practising in front of random strangers in Delhi. “Every weekend I would go to the busiest places and perform. It was a major boost to my confidence,” he says. Since then, he has performed at different colleges across the country.
Arjun dreams of creating a positive impact on society. In the future, he wants to host a TV show, too.