It was a cold December night in 2004, and like millions of Indians, a young Ayush Bisaria watched David Blaine perform his bag of tricks on AXN. Blaine would approach people on the streets, and blow them away by makings cards disappear, showing superhuman strength, and for one dramatic trick, levitating spookily above the ground. Bisaria was mesmerized. “I had goosebumps, and they weren’t because of the cold.”, he laughs.
It could have been a passing childish fancy, a temporary obsession that’s soon replaced by something else, but the fascination with magic refused to go away. A collection of magic kits soon lined his shelves, and he was trying out little tricks of his own. “While others wished to see it happen, I desired to make it happen.”, he says.
Life took an all-too-familiar path as he grew older. He attended college at NIT Jalandhar and studied Chemical Engineering. He went on to do a technical job with Kirloskar, but his heart wasn’t in it. He found his calling in his second job, a role with Landmark group that he enjoyed, but the old pull remained.
“I loved working at Landmark, but I realized I’d achieved what I wanted to do there. I decided to move on and live for a stronger passion – magic.” He quit his job. “It was the most difficult decision I have ever taken.”, he says.
One doesn’t just quit their job and start regaling strangers and make a living off it. Post his stint at Landmark, he took a six month sabbatical and landed at Bangalore to educate himself on the finer aspects of magic. But there was a snag – unlike in the west, where magic is an accepted art form, there were no formal structures in place in India for someone who wanted to become a professional magician. Bisaria didn’t give up though. He pored through books and learnt from the online magic community.
Bisara, like his childhood hero David Blaine, developed into a closeup illusionist. Unlike traditional magicians who perform on large stages with grand sets and lighting, he prefers getting up close to his audience. He pulls off elaborate card tricks and makes rubber bands defy the laws of physics, right under his audience’s noses. “People are excited to be deceived at an arm’s length.”, he says.
All this while, he continued honing his craft. He realized that magic was as much about the tricks as the performance, so he enrolled at a theatre and acting class. He found a mentor in prominent theatre personality Ratan Thakore Grant, who taught him how to elevate his performances into a complete experience. His efforts culminated into his first magic show called Cardiac Arrest, which he’s now performed at corporate and private events, including events at Accenture, Dell and MetLife.
He then decided to take his performances into an unconventional domain – restaurants. Jaspal, the manager of Prost, a popular brewery in Bangalore, decided to let him perform on Wednesday evenings. He’d approach diners with a casual Hi, and proceed to show them his tricks. “People thought it enhanced their experience at the restaurant, and the management was very supportive too.”
While things are looking up for Ayush, he’s says he’s not raking in the millions yet. “For a beginner, magic not lucrative as there is no well defined market in India. However, once you have a strong profile, the commerce gets sustainable.” Having been used to a steady income, freelancing has brought its own set of challenges. “It was hard to part with my job, and financial security and stability did become a concern.” But he’s loving following his passion. “It’s absolutely worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”, he beams.