Biography of Protul Chandra Sorcar (P.C. Sorcar, 1913-1971)
SORCAR and MAGIC are inalienable, Magic being in his blood as he profoundly asserverated. "When asleep I
breathe Magic; when awake I work Magic" Sorcar said in full spirit of ease and delight.
The very name of P.C. Sorcar conjures up the vision of outstanding feats of Indian Magic - the Rope Trick, the Flying Carpet, the X-Ray Eyes. He cast his spell over the most unbelieving audiences and showed before the naked eyes what people thought was impossible.
Besides personal achievements in honours, fame and glory Sorcar's greatest contribution to the World of Magic was the installation of Indian Magic - his beloved Ind-dra-jal - to the pedestal of pristine glory with greater halo round its crown. Under his light and lead it became an Art of International attraction.
Born in a family of magicians of seven generations, Sorcar started off as a stage name for Protul Chandra
Sorcar, a name destined to attain ranks of immortals later. A citizen of India, he was born on February 23, 1913 in the small town of Tangail in Mymensing which now lies in Bangladesh. His father's name is Bhagawan Chandra Sorcar and mother, Kusum Kamini. He had one sibling, a brother, Atul Chandra, ten years younger than him. Sorcar was a brilliant student at school. He graduated from Tangail Shibnath High School in 1929 with first class. In 1931 he earned his I.A. (Intermediate in Arts) degree from the Karotia College (first class) and then joined Ananda Mohan College for B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) with honours in Mathematics. From the very childhood Sorcar found magic to be the passion of his life, which he took up as a full time profession after he sat for his B.A. degree tests in 1933. His singular devotion soon
brought its own honest reward. His unique feats of the newly cultivated
art had soon won robust acclamation from the press and the public alike.
He was hailed as one giving to the Art of Indian Magic a new cultural background
which readily found a strong international appeal.
In 1938 he married Basanti Devi, the daughter of Dr. Pramatha Nath Majumder, a renowned medical doctor of
Mymensing, Bangladesh. Basanti Devi remained the main source of inspiration
for all his achievements throughout Sorcar's life.
Sorcar's interest in writing books on magic flourished simultaneously with his magic shows. Over his
life time, he has been a regular contributor of magic-articles to numerous
magazines and journals thoughout the country and was the author of over
22 books on magic, starting with "Hypnotism", which he wrote while still
a college student. The success of the first book led to the other books
such as "Mesmerism", "Chheleder Magic", "Magiker Kaushal", "Sahaj Magic",
"Magic For You", "More Magic For You", "Hindu Magic", "100 Magic You Can
Do", "Indrajal", "Deshe Deshe", "Sorcar on Magic", "History of Magic" etc.
in Hindi, Bengali and English languages (A list of his books can be found
under "Books" on this website).
Sorcar's triumphant success was a magic by itself, but not achieved in one day. It was a whole life's dedication that made him the World's Greatest Magician. He went around the globe several
times performing his magic lifting a dying art of India and bringing it
to limelight. His items were not mere tricks; each was a combination of
modern science mixed with tastefully designed art. Micky Hades, the editor
of Hade-E-Gram monthly magazine of Calgary, Canada, wrote about him in
his article titled "Sorcar's Artistic Triumph":
"It is with a sense of pride
that I join hands with John Booth, Arthur Leroy, Goodliffe and other world
renowned magicians, to pay tribute to P.C. Sorcar, who lifted a dying art
out of the quagmire of myth and legend and raised it to the highest level
of Indian Culture. It is not my intention to come up to the fine writing
skills of my colleagues, nor to repeat the praises that have already been
accorded. My purpose in writing this article is to express my personal
observations, as succinctly as possible, concerning Sorcar's phenomenal
transition from an amateur Indian trickster to the World's Greatest Magician,
and to elaborate on a specific factor that has a great bearing on this
success story. This factor is Sorcar's ability to recognize, adapt and
develop the vital artistic skills that must be expertly woven into a giant
stage production such as IND-DRA-JAL.
Before we can fully appreciate Sorcar's great artistic accomplishment, we must first look back to the
beginning when, unknown and unheralded, he started climbing up the ladder
of success. It was a difficult undertaking for, above him were the broken
rungs of prejudice and apathy and below, the bramble of myths and ancient
traditions. To fall back meant faiure and anonymity; to climb meant facing
difficult obstacles. The chances of reaching the top of the ladder were
very slim indeed. At this point most people would have chosen to return
to solid ground but Sorcar's firm decision was to climb. And so he climbed,
inch by inch, foot by foot, higher, far above his contemporaries until
the cries of "You'll never make it" dwindled away in the fog below.
Despite the fact that this fantastic achievement is now history, there are still utterings of disbelief--especially among, the Western magicians. How can this be? They ask. How can India,
the land so deeply ingrained in the ways of the old, produce such a modern
giant? The answer is that the country did not spawn the giant; it was the
giant that gave his country a vibrant living art to add to its culture.
In recognition of this service, the Government of India conferred the respectable
'Padmadshri' award upon P.C. Sorcar and accepted his spectacular IND-DRA-JAL
show as part of its cultural exchange programme.
Sorcar is aware that the art of magic is more than the ability to do clever magic tricks on the stage
with a lot of flash. He is an artist who is fully aware of the fact that
magic is largely a visual art but there are many other important factors
that are equally important to the success of an entertainment. The extent
of Sorcar's artistry is fully evident in his advertising which consists
of beautiful programmes, bold posters, gargantuan billboards, and myriads
of handbills, cards, notices, etc., emblazoned in color. The IND-DRA-JAL
show teems with colorful costumes, stage settings and magical apparatus
which has been tastefully tailored to accentuate each act. His magical
properties and illusions appear quite innocent on the surface yet every
item has been subtly treated to achieve the greatest visual impact at all
Magicians at large are not wholly familiar with the subtle art of camouflage that is an important facet of
Magic. It is such an important fundamental in Magic that I devoted an entire
chapter to this subject in my book 'The Make up of Magic'. It requires
experienced planning to create an illusion that can be presented successfully
on any stage in the world. Sorcar has made maximum use of the art of camouflage
in his show. His "Sputnik" Rocket Illusion, Festival in Calcutta Illusion
and sensational Sawing Through a Lady Illusion, have captured the attention
of the press and television everywhere. Many of his less spectacular productions
have won the hearts of his audiences with their mystery and beauty.
It takes an artist to create, assemble and produce a show such as IND-DRA-JAL but it also takes a master
showman to add the proper touches of life, drama, mystery, comedy and audience
appeal into a stageful of properties. Sorcar has proven himself to be an
a showman of rare quality.
Regardless of what conclusions you might choose to make, the
fact cannot be altered. Sorcar has surmounted
all obstacles, outmanoeuvred his contemporaries, outdrew all box-office
receipts, outweighted all magical publicity and outfoxed those who predicted
his failure. In doing this he has proven himself to be the Artist that
one has to be before he can attain such heights. Look at it in any way
you wish, Sorcar is a success story that is already a legend in its
Sorcar received numerous awards, honours, and recognition from different countries, State Governments, and
Federal Government of India. In 1964, the President of India awarded him
the title "Padmashri" (the Lotus), and accepted his spectacular Ind-Dra-Jal
show as part of India's cultural exchange programme. He also received "The
Sphinx" (Nobel Prize of magic) twice and more - a list of which can be
found in the "Awards" section of this website. For his outstanding achievement
in the world of magic, his name appeared in the First Edition of WORLD'S
WHO'S WHO published by Marquis-Who's Who, Inc., and in hundreds of magazines
throughout the world.
Sorcar died of a heart attack
at the young age of 58 in Ashaikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, on January 6, 1971,
where he was performing his Ind-dra-jal. The world mourned the great king
of magic. Messages of condolence came from friends, families, magicians
from all over the world, and from Government authorities and leaders of
many countries including Japan, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, USA, and
Soviet Union. India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi mourned the loss
of the great son of India stating "...with the death of Mr. Sorcar
has ended the glorious chapter of Indian magic".
Sorcar is survived by his wife and five children. A detail about his family members can be found at the Family Tree.