Fascinated by magic tricks performed by celebrated magicians on social media, a young boy from Srinagar began performing tricks on the streets. Despite the squeezed scope of magic in Kashmir, the young magician is upbeat and trying to strike a spell on the ground.
Suspense bounds one and all when he tosses the coins in his hands with confidence. With scores of tricks up his sleeves, within a blink of an eye, he makes the coin drift in the air from one hand to another. There it is, then, hovering in the air amid his hands. It’s magic!
Encouraged by the ability he possessed, Aazan Makhdoomi, 23, from Srinagar’s Rawalpora, started learning magic tricks from social media platforms, before being noticed for his tricks.
His mounting eagerness of how magicians go about their trickery commenced when he saw a coin trick on TV. That was the instant when he decided to become one himself. And curtly, he realized that he was born to perform magic.
His belief to be a conjurer strengthened day by day, as he searched every possible place to know more about it, and found out the exquisiteness lying within it.
“I initially started with YouTube and it helped me a lot,” says Aazan with a boyish eagerness. “The more I searched about it, the more inquisitive I got.”
Tossing the coins in his hands, the magician says his first attempt was when he performed in front of his friends in free time.
“It was the first time I saw a reaction of amazement,” his eyes gleam with recollection. “I couldn’t figure out what I did, but I still remember that moment of delight.”
He developed a bit of prominence when he started doing tricks locally on the roads and in front of shopkeepers around his tuition centre.
“But I wanted to learn more about the magic tricks,” Aazan continues. “So, I contacted professional magicians and downloaded their lectures and bought DVDs.”
Sharing an immense amount of dedication towards magic made him endeavor harder, and explore further.
His motivation was triggered when he spotted the celebrated magician Eric Jones and started purchasing his work. “I learnt the fundamentals from him, especially the coin tricks,” he says, matter-of-factly.
But never had he contemplated that his interest would be to become a mentalist, until he encountered a show in 2011, Deception with Keith Barry.
As mentalism became his main area of interest, in the vast field of magic, he had to deal with reading minds and predicting outcomes of random events, and card table deceptions.
The tricks that he mostly does, involves sleight of hand and psychological manipulation.
“But my parents aren’t ready to accept this as my line of work,” he rues. “So, yeah, I don’t see any hope of taking this as my primary career, ever!”
Back home his father gives his own justification for preventing his son from pursuing his passion.
“We’re Muslims,” says Muzaffar Makhdoomi, Aazan’s father, with a straight face. “So to trick others is a sin as per my understanding. You see, life and living are two different things. People would cheer for a while and later would forget him. Besides, there’s no tenable future for my child in doing magic tricks.”
He wants his son to pursue his studies with absolute devotion and not squander his time doing magic. “We can provide a relief for him and that’s to use this magic as a hobby and keep it as a side job,” Muzaffar says.
Apart from the family hurdle, the young magician had to come across a situation which disappointed him, when his friend stole his magic tricks, used his videos and portrayed them as his own on his social media handle.
“I had never thought that I will be encountering such disloyalty from my own friend,” Aazan says, with a long face. “I never did anything bad to him. I taught him whatever I had learnt and yet he betrayed me.”
Without perturbing himself with the incident, he was determined to keep magic a leisure pursuit, striking a perfect balance between his studies and passion.
As time passed and he refined his work to perfection, Aazan established ways of getting a podium for his talent and started performing in events across the Kashmir Valley.
“Finally in 2015 I got a chance to perform in front of an audience and the response I got was astounding,” he smiles. “I couldn’t believe the amount of appreciation I got from them.”
His desire for knowledge about new things each day made him to look for more, so that he could be flawless in his work.
“Cards were introduced by a friend of mine as my impression of them was that it is only used for gambling,” he continues voicing his journey. “I started looking for videos again. When I wasn’t satisfied by the information available online, I purchased books and started practicing new tricks day in and out.”
While he was paid at some events, others didn’t even accept the fact that he was a performer.
“Sometimes I feel like people don’t respect the fact that I can actually perform magic tricks,” he says, turning thoughtful. “It’s disheartening to see artists getting paid for singing and other talents, but when it comes to magic it’s always a second thought.”
For people around him, Aazan is already an inspiration—besides somebody, who’s daring to do something different in life, despite the odds stacked against it.
“He amazes me with his effects and I want him to pursue his career in magic as one should always go for what one is best in,” believes Sarmad Rasool, Aazan’s childhood buddy. “In Kashmir we don’t have this kind of talent in abundance. When I see Aazan doing his magic tricks, I can see magicians like Dynamo reflecting in his work which is rare to come across.”
Being a magician and a mechanical engineering student at the same time, Aazan has to strike a balance between magic and mathematics.
“When we contrast whether he is excellent in mathematics or magic,” says Dr. Aabid, his mathematics teacher, “it’s not even questionable because I’ve seen him doing both. But every time I see him perform magic, I’m awestruck.”
Trying to shine in the sorts of magic tricks he works on, he says, he never loses hope when he fails to deliver it flawlessly.
“Whenever I try to learn something new,” Aazan says, “I first see what I already know and my aim is always to go beyond that and to make it more perfect. I try to keep my performance fair.”
Magic might be about sleight-of-hand, but in Kashmir the field for magicians isn’t that vast as people priorities it, or make it into a profession. With the result, the Valley is yet to see the arrival of a noteworthy magician.
“But I’m a magician and I’m proud of it, because not everyone is blessed with so much of interest and dedication,” Aazan says. “I’ll continue my enthusiasm for magic, as it made me a better person and helped me discover who really I am.”
His inspiration mostly lies amongst the international magicians. He learns various tricks that they execute.
“I’m inspired by Eric Jones, for coin magic,” he says. “Jason England and Richard Turner guided me in cards and for mentalism. I sought knowledge from Keith Berry as well.”
While displaying one of his tricks, he inexplicably asks a person to choose a celebrity in his mind and looks for the same in the browser. He gazes in his eyes as if he knows what he’s going to pick. With a firm voice, he says, ‘I’ve no idea about what you’re going to choose, but I’ll try.’
He takes out his visiting card and jots the letters down. Few second pass and he flips it.
There it is — Ben Affleck. He reads the mind, and gets it right. He does it!
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