Biography of Protul Chandra Sorcar (P.C. Sorcar, 1913-1971)

SORCAR and MAGIC are inalienable, Magic being in his blood as he profoundly asserverated. "When asleep I breathe Magic; when awake I work Magic" Sorcar said in full spirit of ease and delight.

Poster from PC Sorcar performance

The very name of P.C. Sorcar conjures up the vision of outstanding feats of Indian Magic - the Rope Trick, the Flying Carpet, the X-Ray Eyes. He cast his spell over the most unbelieving audiences and showed before the naked eyes what people thought was impossible.

Besides personal achievements in honours, fame and glory Sorcar's greatest contribution to the World of Magic was the installation of Indian Magic - his beloved Ind-dra-jal - to the pedestal of pristine glory with greater halo round its crown. Under his light and lead it became an Art of International attraction.

Born in a family of magicians of seven generations, Sorcar started off as a stage name for Protul Chandra Sorcar, a name destined to attain ranks of immortals later. A citizen of India, he was born on February 23, 1913 in the small town of Tangail in Mymensing which now lies in Bangladesh. His father's name is Bhagawan Chandra Sorcar and mother, Kusum Kamini. He had one sibling, a brother, Atul Chandra, ten years younger than him. Sorcar was a brilliant student at school. He graduated from Tangail Shibnath High School in 1929 with first class. In 1931 he earned his I.A. (Intermediate in Arts) degree from the Karotia College (first class) and then joined Ananda Mohan College for B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) with honours in Mathematics. From the very childhood Sorcar found magic to be the passion of his life, which he took up as a full time profession after he sat for his B.A. degree tests in 1933. His singular devotion soon brought its own honest reward. His unique feats of the newly cultivated art had soon won robust acclamation from the press and the public alike. He was hailed as one giving to the Art of Indian Magic a new cultural background which readily found a strong international appeal.

In 1938 he married Basanti Devi, the daughter of Dr. Pramatha Nath Majumder, a renowned medical doctor of Mymensing, Bangladesh. Basanti Devi remained the main source of inspiration for all his achievements throughout Sorcar's life.

Sorcar with Lord and Lady Mountbatten
in London

Sorcar's interest in writing books on magic flourished simultaneously with his magic shows. Over his life time, he has been a regular contributor of magic-articles to numerous magazines and journals thoughout the country and was the author of over 22 books on magic, starting with "Hypnotism", which he wrote while still a college student. The success of the first book led to the other books such as "Mesmerism", "Chheleder Magic", "Magiker Kaushal", "Sahaj Magic", "Magic For You", "More Magic For You", "Hindu Magic", "100 Magic You Can Do", "Indrajal", "Deshe Deshe", "Sorcar on Magic", "History of Magic" etc. in Hindi, Bengali and English languages (A list of his books can be found under "Books" on this website).

Sorcar's triumphant success was a magic by itself, but not achieved in one day. It was a whole life's dedication that made him the World's Greatest Magician. He went around the globe several times performing his magic lifting a dying art of India and bringing it to limelight. His items were not mere tricks; each was a combination of modern science mixed with tastefully designed art. Micky Hades, the editor of Hade-E-Gram monthly magazine of Calgary, Canada, wrote about him in his article titled "Sorcar's Artistic Triumph":

"It is with a sense of pride that I join hands with John Booth, Arthur Leroy, Goodliffe and other world renowned magicians, to pay tribute to P.C. Sorcar, who lifted a dying art out of the quagmire of myth and legend and raised it to the highest level of Indian Culture. It is not my intention to come up to the fine writing skills of my colleagues, nor to repeat the praises that have already been accorded. My purpose in writing this article is to express my personal observations, as succinctly as possible, concerning Sorcar's phenomenal transition from an amateur Indian trickster to the World's Greatest Magician, and to elaborate on a specific factor that has a great bearing on this success story. This factor is Sorcar's ability to recognize, adapt and develop the vital artistic skills that must be expertly woven into a giant stage production such as IND-DRA-JAL.

Before we can fully appreciate Sorcar's great artistic accomplishment, we must first look back to the beginning when, unknown and unheralded, he started climbing up the ladder of success. It was a difficult undertaking for, above him were the broken rungs of prejudice and apathy and below, the bramble of myths and ancient traditions. To fall back meant faiure and anonymity; to climb meant facing difficult obstacles. The chances of reaching the top of the ladder were very slim indeed. At this point most people would have chosen to return to solid ground but Sorcar's firm decision was to climb. And so he climbed, inch by inch, foot by foot, higher, far above his contemporaries until the cries of "You'll never make it" dwindled away in the fog below.

Despite the fact that this fantastic achievement is now history, there are still utterings of disbelief--especially among, the Western magicians. How can this be? They ask. How can India, the land so deeply ingrained in the ways of the old, produce such a modern giant? The answer is that the country did not spawn the giant; it was the giant that gave his country a vibrant living art to add to its culture. In recognition of this service, the Government of India conferred the respectable 'Padmadshri' award upon P.C. Sorcar and accepted his spectacular IND-DRA-JAL show as part of its cultural exchange programme.

Sorcar is aware that the art of magic is more than the ability to do clever magic tricks on the stage with a lot of flash. He is an artist who is fully aware of the fact that magic is largely a visual art but there are many other important factors that are equally important to the success of an entertainment. The extent of Sorcar's artistry is fully evident in his advertising which consists of beautiful programmes, bold posters, gargantuan billboards, and myriads of handbills, cards, notices, etc., emblazoned in color. The IND-DRA-JAL show teems with colorful costumes, stage settings and magical apparatus which has been tastefully tailored to accentuate each act. His magical properties and illusions appear quite innocent on the surface yet every item has been subtly treated to achieve the greatest visual impact at all times.

Magicians at large are not wholly familiar with the subtle art of camouflage that is an important facet of Magic. It is such an important fundamental in Magic that I devoted an entire chapter to this subject in my book 'The Make up of Magic'. It requires experienced planning to create an illusion that can be presented successfully on any stage in the world. Sorcar has made maximum use of the art of camouflage in his show. His "Sputnik" Rocket Illusion, Festival in Calcutta Illusion and sensational Sawing Through a Lady Illusion, have captured the attention of the press and television everywhere. Many of his less spectacular productions have won the hearts of his audiences with their mystery and beauty.

Sorcar cycles blindfolded along place de
L'opera and Champs-Elysees, Paris, 1950

It takes an artist to create, assemble and produce a show such as IND-DRA-JAL but it also takes a master showman to add the proper touches of life, drama, mystery, comedy and audience appeal into a stageful of properties. Sorcar has proven himself to be an artist and a showman of rare quality.

Regardless of what conclusions you might choose to make, the fact cannot be altered. Sorcar has surmounted all obstacles, outmanoeuvred his contemporaries, outdrew all box-office receipts, outweighted all magical publicity and outfoxed those who predicted his failure. In doing this he has proven himself to be the Artist that one has to be before he can attain such heights. Look at it in any way you wish, Sorcar is a success story that is already a legend in its time."

Sorcar received numerous awards, honours, and recognition from different countries, State Governments, and Federal Government of India. In 1964, the President of India awarded him the title "Padmashri" (the Lotus), and accepted his spectacular Ind-Dra-Jal show as part of India's cultural exchange programme. He also received "The Sphinx" (Nobel Prize of magic) twice and more - a list of which can be found in the "Awards" section of this website. For his outstanding achievement in the world of magic, his name appeared in the First Edition of WORLD'S WHO'S WHO published by Marquis-Who's Who, Inc., and in hundreds of magazines throughout the world.

Sorcar on NBC-TV, New York, USA

Sorcar died of a heart attack at the young age of 58 in Ashaikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, on January 6, 1971, where he was performing his Ind-dra-jal. The world mourned the great king of magic. Messages of condolence came from friends, families, magicians from all over the world, and from Government authorities and leaders of many countries including Japan, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Soviet Union.  India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi mourned the loss of the great son of India stating "...with the death of Mr. Sorcar has ended the glorious chapter of Indian magic".

Sorcar is survived by his wife and five children. A detail about his family members can be found at the Family Tree.