Spreading magic to the rural masses

The pot is on the fire! One of Venu’s favourite tricks
Venu toured the State on a scooter, blindfolded

Long ago, India’s ace magician, P.C. Sorcar, announced by throngs of enthusiastic people, who impatiently waited for the great man to show up at the appointed time – which was six ‘O’ clock. They waited for three hours, after which a nonchalant Sorcar sauntered in with his captivating smile, as though to say here he was and why the ado about near nothing.

The organiser glared and turned their watch dials his way to indicate that, he was a good three hours late. At which the master trickster smiled again and offered his own time as proof. That he was on time as it was just six ‘O’ clock now. To the masses’ utter amazement, every dial in the auditorium showed six ‘O’ clock.

When Hyderabad’s answer to Sorcar magic, Samala Venu called for his interview, we arrived at 3 ‘O’ clock as an ideal time. Venu burst into office a good half hour late, and in the ensuring flurry of hurried introductions and beaming smiles to all and sundry, yours truly almost forgot the agonizing wait. These magicians and their guiles.

Talking to him was another experience altogether, as the effervescent 26 year old magician and hypnotist kept this scribe enthralled for a solid hour, hands gesticulating wildly while his mobile face was a kaleidoscope of expressions, all so subtle, all perfectly time.

Throughout the one hour, Venu spoke of his art form, its market and most important, his elaborate plans to use magic as a novel means of mass communication in rural areas. At the end of the conversation, as though one had just spent time with someone somewhat superhuman.

Magic entered Venus life at the age of 14 when he was so mesmerized by a performance by Prof. B.V. Pattabhiram of the Andhra Balandam Magic and Hypnotism school, that he quit a not too promising sporting career to learn magic as an art.

At 14, he gave his first stage show. Since then, he has completed 1,000 programmes all over India, in addition to lecdems on Radio and T.V.

Everywhere this cherubic showman went, he created a sensation and received laudits from the press, public and cultural organisations, for his innovative way of presentation and novel repertoire.

In 1991, Venu held an audience spellbound for 36 hours non-stop without repeating a single item. This was in September. Two months later, Venu rode blindfolded for 3,186 kilometers on a Kinetic Honda, covering 23 districts in his home stage. It was with these amazing feats that Samala Venu entered the Guinness Book of World Records as well as the Lima Book of Records.

A magic show by Venu contains hair raising items like, mass hypnotism, cutting off and then joining a man’s head from the shoulders, making coffee and omlettes on a fire atop some ones head, printing rupee notes and producing rabbits and pigeons out of thin air. In spite of having won international acclaim for his shows, Venu is, at heart, a true son of the soil. He plans to go into rural interiors and propagate the effectiveness of magic shows to transmit simple messages to the villagers, covering a wide range of problems, from obtaining a bank loan to increasing productivity on the fields.

Yadgiri, a farmer from Nizambad says, “These shows are of immense delight to us. In them we are educated while being pleasantly entertained after a hard day’s work.” Sithamma, another farmer from the same district, talks of this “interesting babu” who talks of cost-effective schemes while giving us all a gala time. It won’t be long before the magic spreads, what with more and more banks and rural development organisations clamouring for a chunk of the magic man’s time.

Today, Venu is old hat at most of his tricks, therefore he keeps flying away to Canada to attend the conference of IBM, the International Brotherhood of Magicians! “I learnt a few new tricks”, he declares with a shy smile.

What does he plan to do with all the tricks? He would like to go back to the villagers for nowhere else does Venu receive the kind of sincere adulation that the villagers shower upon him. “I need little else to satisfy me, says a frank Venu,” “The peals of delight an ensuing applause is enough to fill my stomach, and I will cherish the place these innocent people have given me in their hearts. I will launch a renewed campaign to propagate magic as an art and use it for socially beneficial purposes, not bothering about pecuniary gain.”

Forever on the lookout for newer, more novel ways of doing old things, Venu spends most of his waking hours practicing, or running off to put yet another incredible proposal before a flabbergasted banker. He tied the knot a couple of months back, and has only praise for his wife, Madhavi, who is proving to be the model wife for a magician. She helps him to prepare for every show while taking care of his ancillary work. Venu’s domestic front seems placid, which makes us ask when we will hear patter of tiny feet on the floor. At his he bursts out laughing and says, “I haven’t done any magic there as yet, that’s one show where the pleasure is going to be all mine.”


Copyrights Samala Venu 2006                                                 Designed by Sramika