Nakul Shenoy, 37, discovered Mandrake the Magician at the age of five. Since then he has been trying to get up close and personal with his idol. Growing up in Udupi, Karnataka, performance spaces were few and far between but Shenoy kept practising magic and did his first big show at the age of 15. In 2010 he decided to take it up as a full-fledged profession and hasn’t looked back since.

With his first book now available in stores, he reveals that magic is much, much more than party tricks.

Tell us about you and Mandrake?

So, Mandrake is a fabled story, as we all know. As a young kid, at about age five, I used to pester my mom to basically read Mandrake out loud for me. I was fascinated by this character. He could make anyone see what he wanted them to see.

The moment you say Mandrake, a couple of things come to mind. There’s one strip where these guys are pointing pistols at him, and he says, ‘Those aren’t bananas are they?’ And the guys have bananas in their hands instead of pistols. It’s an imagery that’s so brilliant. And it caught my young imagination.

What is magic, according to you?

To me magic is about wonder, about creating an experience that stays with you. Sadly, most of the magic we see is just tricks or a puzzle. How you do the trick is secondary. How did he/she make that happen or how did the magician know what the audience is thinking is a feeling that registers with them. Someone watching magic will never get over this.

Tell us your favourite trick.

For 10-odd years, I have been performing as a mind reader. It was way back in 2002, when I started calling myself a mind reader and not a magician. Everything I do now is about the power of the mind, it has been about me being able to read somebody’s mind and being able to influence and transverse thoughts.

What sets this book apart?

Most magic books are about the trick and the method. About what you do and how you do it. This book is essentially about the performance. So it actually goes a little beyond the magic. It is a magic book, yes, but it will help anybody who is into speaking, performance, or presentations.