THIS MAN BELONGS TO ANOTHER WORLD
By Sports Editor, Sports Magazine, Kampala, East Africa (26 March 1959)
Gingerly I went for the interview; supposing Sorcar began playing tricks
on me! What then?
A thick-spectacled rotund figure in lounge suit was reclining besides
Mr. Lakhani in the settee at the Ripon Falls Hotel reading a copy of Sport.
Surely this man couldn't be Sorcar, who reads blindfolded in his show and
has no need for specs. I looked in vain for the familiar face which has
been staring at us from the posters during the last few weeks.
Mr. Lakhani came to the rescue and introduced the figure as Sorcar.
It was a surprise.
Sorcar was quite slim when I saw in London three years ago at the Duke
of York Theatre. He smiled, shook hands and began a 15-minute chat in English
and Hindhustani. "I know your show is famous all over the world, Mr. Sorcar,
but tell me what country has not seen it." "Only the Soviet Union and Communist
China. You see I would lose the American market if I went there." Sorcar
was frank. "What made you take up magic as a career? "What a questions?
I was born in a family of seven generations of magicians. It is in my blood,
old boy." Then began a chat about his youth, where he was born, where
resided, what plans he had for the future, etc. Sorcar was born Protul
Chandra Sarcar in Tangail, East Bengal, forty six years ago. After studying
honours in Mathematics at Calcutta University, he turned to the hereditary
profession. "What do you think about Houdini? "I think he has been unnecessarily
boosted up by the Americans as a magician. He was a great showman, yes,
but definitely not a magician. You know what: I was billed in America as
the "Indian Houdini"; it was a misnomer."
Coming to the classical question to a magician, I asked Sorcar, "What
do you think of the Indian Rope Trick? You know Westerners are skeptical
"I believe the Indian Rope Trick can be done under certain favourable
conditions, the same conditions that are required for suspended animation,"
The Great Sorcar or "Sorcar the Great' (he is king in his own realm),
call him what you will, is indeed stupendous. Not only is he a Master Magician
but also a master illusionist and a master showman. East Africa, at least,
has never seen such costumes, such scenery, such synchronization and such
instantaneous action. Sorcar calls himself a cultural ambassador of India.The
cuttings from over a thousand newspapers all over the world testify that
he has fulfilled this role wonderfully well. Among other numerous awards
from all the five continents, Sorcar twice won the Sphinx award (the Nobel
Prize of Magic) in New York. The man who amazed London, New York and Paris
by cycling blindfold in the thickest traffic was none other than Sorcar.
Tributes have been paid to him by high and low, by ministers, jurists,
doctors and the humble johnny. Sorcar is not a modest man; he is justifiably
proud of his achievements. "Never before has the magic of the East in all
its mystery been taken to the West," says Sorcar. And indeed the "pukka
sahib," instead of having to travel East, has had all India's "mystery"
brought to his doorstep by Sorcar, literally, on a silver plate.
A very strong point with Sorcar is that he knows exactly what the public
wants; he can gauge their demands with the nicety of a virtuoso.
Thank goodness, Sorcar did not perform the Vanishing Trick during te
interview. Some of the items in the forst half of the show have probably
been seen by many magic fans before but the items after the interval were
real choice pieces, never witnessed before in East Africa. The curtains
at the Norman parted with the blowing of Mahabarta trumpets and temple
bells. After the "Water of India" stunt, Sorcar began taking odds and ends
out of a hollow cylinder. Suddenly he came out of the wings armed with
a .202; with a single dummy shot, four live ducks appeared out of
the cylinder. Different items followed in quick succession - pigeons appearing
from nowhere and pigeons disappearing to nowhere. The novelty about Sorcar's
card tricks was that unconventionally, he used oversize cards, as high
as his pretty girls' waists (Sorcar's assistants). The most sensational
items in the first half was inviting members of the audience to write anything
on a blackboard. Sorcar read or wrote commentaries on these, heavily blindfolded.
He also extended a single line or a mark into a caricature. Would Sorcar
have been able also to decipher a stiff scientific formula? Sorcar calls
this item the feat of the X-RAY EYES. After the ten-minute interval, there
was the Chinese House illusion (also called the Shanghai Mystery) with
Chinese costumes and Chinese background. For the Temple of Benares act
Sorcar, dressed up as pundit, made a girl disappear inside a miniature
temple, to reappear again at his command. Large Indian swords were thrust
in while the girl was supposed to be inside. The Egyptian Magic item was
on the same basis as the Chinese Act, with the pyramids and Sphinx in the
background and Sorcar dressed up as a Sheikh (the harem was there too).
The Egyptian music by Sorcar's Indian musicians created an atmosphere of
Haroun al Rashid's days. Thepiece de resistance, which has made men gap,
and women faint, was sawing the lady in half by an electrical circular
saw. Much has been written about this realistic illusion (for an illusion
it is) but to do full justice to Sorcar, one has got to see the Act itself.
Millions saw it on television in Europe and America. Another sensational
item, cutting a piece of the tongue of an assistant was given as an extra
item by Sorcar in Kampala. Sorcar explained that he seldom gave both the
above items in the same show. This feat has been performed before skeptics
of the British Medical Association. Among others who witnessed the feat
in Kampala were several doctors and they were impressed. The feat, Sorcar
explains, depends entirely on hypnotism (Sorcar also mumbled Hindu mantras).
Witnesses testify that the heart and pulse of the subject stopped completely
while the tongue was being sliced. A lot has also been written in the West
about Hindu Black Art or the Vanishing Trick. It was terrifying, especially
the one where two grotesque skeletons did the "Dance of Death". Before
the finale, Sorcar "vanished" while doing a "dance" on the stage, to appear
instantaneously at the back of the hall. "I am here" - surprised faces
SORCAR, THE LEGEND
There are plenty of tales about Sorcar, some of them ture. When invited
for his Sh. 1/- contribution at the Nairobi Rotary Club, Sorcar produced
a -/10 cents piece. He was politely told that is was 'impertinence'. "It
is a shilling," Sorcar insisted. The Rotarians looked again, and indeed
a shilling it was! There is also the story of the British Railways ticket
collector who demanded Sorcar's ticket. "I haven't got it," said Sorcar.
"Come with me to the Station master's office." "Whatever for? You pinched
my ticket." The collector stared, amazed at the green bit of official cardboard
in his hand. the best one is about Sorcar and his mother-in-law! After
Sorcar's wedding, his dotting mother-in-law brought a choice dish of delicacies
for the son-in-law. "There is nothing there," sais Sorcar, with affected
indignation removing the cover. Wouldn't you like to see your mother-in-law