Text by Abish Shakya
Nepal’s only member in the International Brotherhood of Magicians, world’s largest organization dedicated to the art of magic, Surav Shrestha never knew when he became a magician; he was already one before he knew it. At 6 years of age, he was skipping school days only to show magic to strangers in the street of Kathmandu, but now, he has already brought thousands of people in China, India, United States, Dubai, Malaysia and others, much to their surprisal.
When was your first exposure to magic like?
A day when my dad made a crazy ball to vanish in his hand and made it appear again. I never realized it had a subconscious trigger that would give a big impact to me.
How did you learn to perform magic?
I was performing magical tricks on my own even before I realized what actually I was doing. Dad never taught me anything, but I figured out ways to create tricks on my own. The exposure to Indra Jals, street magicians, and meeting other magicians by chance was how I learned to do magic. Since YouTube wasn’t invented, books were my source of knowledge. Later, I pursued my higher education in magic, and learned more from my mentors.
Were your parents supportive?
It would be fair to say my parents weren’t supportive until I started earning from it. They never dissuaded me though. Dad still doesn’t believe I’m a magician. In my childhood, my granny used to act as if she was surprised with my tricks, which was a moral support and motivation to me.
“I recommend only 18+ people to view my magic shows. I don’t want kids risking their lives replicating my tricks.”
How difficult is it to earn mastery in mystical arts?
People talk about black magic, witches and voodoo, but such magic does not exist. Magic is all about illusions and tricks. Deceiting people isn’t easy but nothing is impossible, all you need to work hard on it. You cannot learn the art from YouTube because a proper magician does not reveal the secrets of magic. Those who teach online are amateur magicians, and you won’t be able to learn a good deal from them.
People talk about black magic, witches and voodoo, but such magic does not exist. Magic is all about illusions and tricks.
What kinds of magic do you avoid performing?
I do not like performing with animals because many animals have sustained collapsed ribs or wings while and after performance. I don’t want to meddle with another’s life.
How difficult is it to come up with a magic trick?
The type of magic I specialize in is ‘Geek Magic’, which is risky and painful. A magician or illusionist has to keep his life in challenges, and mess up with his body, and I have working with needles, and even ate blades. Some magicians have worked for more than 25 years to come up with a trick. I have personally worked for 6 years to develop a trick.
Which is the greatest trick you can perform?
I have created a trick titled ‘THE RISING’, which I haven’t performed in front of anyone yet. It’s related to spirits where one will receive a gift from the other side. I don’t want to perform this trick for anyone because other magicians might figure out how I’ve performed it, and I want to keep this trick to myself till I die.
Which is the greatest trick you have performed?
The greatest trick I have performed is titled ‘THE LAST WORD’, a mentalist trick where I ends up predicting the last words that the hypnotised participant say before s/he dies. Participants on whom I had performed this trick have baffled.
Can magic tricks go wrong?
Yes. Even easy tricks that are practiced for 1000 times might go wrong. Magic tricks performed by greatest magicians in greatest shows have gone wrong. But actually, magicians always find ways to cover it up. There was one instance when my trick went wrong, and I began bleeding from my eye on the stage.
Which is the most painful magic trick you have performed?
The trick where I had to thread a needle through the back of my palm and get it out of the front. Tattoo in my hand made it difficult to perform. I ended up poking the needle on my hand over and over again, which was quite disastrous and painful.
What are your upcoming events?
I’ve got plans to perform every Friday when venues are available inside Kathmandu in a show called “Deception”. Besides that, I have plans to perform in Kathmandu, Itahari and Pokhara with my mentor Nicholas Tweedy. I’m also planning to organize first International Magicians Convention in Nepal for which I have 500 magicians in my mind.
What are your plans?
Vegas baby! It’s every magician dream to perform a Grand Illusion show at Las Vegas.
Any advice to aspiring magicians?
Life is a curry and problems are the salts. You have to get past them to be successful in life. You cannot blame society for not following your dreams. The stereotypes run all around the world, so if you want to follow your dreams, you have to get rid of “excusophobia”. It is difficult, but it is possible.