By Vrinda Manocha. September 25, 2010.
Manipal: Nakul Shenoy is a psychic entertainer and a ‘mentalist’, one among only four in the country today. He is popular among companies like Apple, Microsoft and Wipro for his show ‘Beyond Magic’ in which he reads and manipulates minds. He is a guest faculty at the Academy of Magical Sciences, Thiruvananthapuram. Shenoy was in Manipal for the TEDx conference held on September 21st where he thrilled audiences with his ability to know what they were thinking. An ex-student of Manipal Univeristy, he spoke to The Manipal Journal at length on his ‘mental’ career.
Q: What exactly do you mean by the term ‘mentalist’?
A: Mentalist is a word that’s been existing since the 40s. The term was used by magicians who could read minds. People understand the term better because of the US TV show, ‘The Mentalist.’ There are certain methods we use to do this. Everything is a trick though. No-one is claiming powers.
Q: How did you decide to take up magic as a career?
A: My first public performance was at the age of fifteen. I got disillusioned with regular magic, that is vanishing things and producing things. Now I am a psychic entertainer.
I studied at Manipal Institute of Communication, where I learnt regular theories of communication and wrote a thesis on how different strata of society react to magic. I also developed the powers of acute observation with great difficulty. I have trained myself to observe people and that’s how I’m good at what I do. Anyone can develop these skills, but it takes a lot of time and patience.
Q: Your powers of observation would have served you well in journalism too.
A: I didn’t want to write for a living. I don’t want to be associated with the current crop of journalists. Today, the media gives us fake news as breaking news. To me, there’s nothing very different in journalism and what I do.
Q: The protagonist in ‘The Mentalist’ uses his abilities to solve crimes. Have you ever been approached by people asking you to do similar things?
A: There are people who expect me to work miracles for them. Doctors, and people who have been ill approach me regularly. It saddens me that I cannot help them, but I’m not a trained psychologist. Corporate houses have asked me to sit in on their recruitment sessions and choose the best candidate for the job, based on his body language. I never do that, because I don’t want to ruin an innocent man’s chance at a job. There is a line I draw for myself.
Q: Is being a mentalist a lucrative career option?
A: I was originally a web writer, a user-ability expert. After some years in the industry, I decided enough is enough. Actually, my job is more lucrative than my corporate job.
Q: Is it possible to misuse your skills?
A: I could take advantage of what I do. I could be a spiritual guru. I could get people to build temples around me. I can tell you I have powers, and you will believe me. But that’s not what I want to do.
Q: Have you received criticism for what you do?
A: What I do is entertainment. I make it very clear that I might be wrong in guessing someone’s choice. Some people have accused me of forcing them to make a decision, and then guessing correctly what they chose. That’s why I always ask the volunteer if he is sure with his choice before I proceed with the act.
Q: You’ve said that you don’t have powers, but do you still believe in magic?
A: I still believe in magic. It may not be powers and superstition. There are a lot of things that you can’t explain. I believe there is a deeper meaning to the word.
Sub-edited by: Shivakant Menon
Note: Article reproduced from Interview with The Mentalist: Nakul Shenoy – The Manipal Record (WebArchive)