“But how did you do that,” is an expression that Neel Madhav often encounters in his profession.
The Mumbai-based illusionist, who has made a brand for his tricks that combine magic with mentalism, neuro-linguistic programming, and criminology, is back home. But he has been up and about in the last few months, touring 13 Indian cities for Sony BBC Earth’s You Got Magic and enthralling audiences with his bag of tricks.
“Street magic for television is very different from a stage show,” says the 27-year-old, “Here, you have to show the trick.”
That is exactly what he has done in You Got Magic, which promises to combine the thrills of travel and magic. Neel Madhav’s travel stories not only include the ‘must dos’ and ‘must sees’ but also include interesting facts to make the experience more exciting. “There was a lot of interesting experiences, especially because of the varied culture that India has to offer.”
The best among them, according to him, was Kerala’s Thrissur. The timing of his visit could not have been more perfect; it was during the Onam festival, when all of Kerala was up and celebrating. “Thrissur was amazing; we filmed when the ‘Tiger festival’ was on. What was most interesting to see was the communal harmony because there was no religious association with the festival.”
The sight of three girls — a Muslim, a Christian and a Hindu — walking together was among the various images the camera following Neel captured. “It looked right out of a movie scene.”
So, how does he design his tricks? “In some places, we plan it, but in others, we just go with the flow. I get most excited when I can conjure up a trick within a few minutes, based on the resources available on ground. Sometimes, those are the ones that get the best reactions.”
With his latest show, Neel hopes to throw light on offbeat travel options and also create more awareness on magic among the general public. “Magic is an untapped market. Till now, a lot of people, especially in rural parts, think that such “miracles” can be done only by foreigners. That is changing now,” says Neel, who considers international magicians like Dynamo, David Blaine and Criss Angel as his role models, “It’s an exciting time for magic at the moment.”
You Got Magic with Neel Madhav will air from Monday to Friday at 10 pm on Sony BBC Earth