P.C. SORCAR: Indian Magician in 1946

by Jack Gwynne, Greatest Vaudeville Magician, Chicago, USA

During my recent tour of India I was surprised at the number of really good magicians that I found, in spite of the fact that India is known as the land of Mystery. Their magicians have contributed to magic many of the most famous tricks and illusions. The basket trick, mango tree, cups and balls, levitation, are but the ones with which we are most familiar.

Space and time at the present will not allow me to go into a full account of my adventurers with the many men of mystery that it was my good fortune and pleasure to encounter in my travels about the strange country, so I will be content to report on what I believe to be the largest and best of all magic shows on tour.

We were playing up in the interior, at one of the bases on the Assam and Bengal railroad. Having an afternoon off, we hoped in a jeep and set out for the nearest village and at once started to ask if they had a magician in the vicinity. A store keeper said that there was a traveling show to be held that night in the local theatre but that he did not know where the performer might be found in the day time. We at once started to canvas the likely places and with our few words of the Hindu language to help us, at last located him at the tourist house near the station.

It turned out to be the one and only P.C. Sorcar, whose books I had picked up in the book stalls of Calcutta. In ten minutes we were fast friends and you would have thought that we had known each other for years. He proved to be highly educated and well read and told me that he took up magic after education had been completed and that since that time devoted all his time to his show and the writing of books.

We were invited to attend his show that night and here was the opportunity I had desired. The catch was that my show was to be one at about the same time as his and several miles away. He insisted that he would gladly hold the curtain till we arrived, and when I explained the importance of the opportunity to the special service officer at the base, he gladly advanced the time of our show to suit.

As soon as I finished my act, a jeep whisked me to the native theatre and we were given choice seats in the third row. Almost at once, the native musicians struck up their weird melodies and the show was on.

Beautiful stage settings and props caught the eyes and many familiar tricks as well as some original ones were presented by Sorcar and a well trained and smartly costumed crew of assistants. Book of Life, dove frame, tub and trays, flip-over box, sword box, substitution trunk, asrah and very fine and rare presentation of the revolving aga, in fact the first I had ever seen.

He used his native Bengali language which was strange to me but by the laughter and applause one could tell that he went over big with audience, I especially enjoyed his asides to me in English. In the second half of the show he did a very creditable chalk trick and trick cartoon act and then went into the features of the show. I was amazed at his ability to present the X-Ray Eyes wherein he told the names on cards, numbers on the calendar, and did many other unique tests. I was then introduced and asked to come on the stage along with a local doctor, to witness his famous tongue operation. As far as I am concerned he cut a slice right off the end of the victim's tongue in front of the doctor and myself, and healed it again in the space of a few moments.

As I was the only foreigner in the theatre, I think that I was as much of an attraction to the native audience as P.C. Sorcar was to me. After the show, I just had time to congratulate him on his really fine performances when I heard a train whistle. Our special car had been pulled into the station to pick me up and as I turned in for the night, I said, to myself, "Well, you have just seen the best Magic show in India."