‘Not playing tricks, but preventing magic from vanishing’

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Chandigarh, April 28 (IANS) As a world-acclaimed magician, Tony Hassini’s not playing tricks to make things disappear. Rather he’s using his hands to prevent the enchanting art of magic from vanishing – to the extent of planning an Olympics for the genre in India.

The ace, elderly and globetrotting rockstar magician Hassini is the president of the US-based International Magicians Society, the world’s largest professional body of magicians.

“Persistence and determination are the two key words to success,” Hassini, 75, who was born with a hearing impairment and dyslexia, told IANS in an interview here.

It’s the repertoire of tricks that changed his life.

“Magic gave me the self-confidence and the opportunity to see eye-to-eye,” the Muammar Gaddafi lookalike said.

Sharing his inspirational journey from a disabled child born during World War II to an immigrant dish-washer to an acclaimed magician, Cyprus-born Hassini said: “Everybody has the desire to be rich. Talent doesn’t make it. There are so many talented people who are starving. Hard work doesn’t make it.”

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The American magician, who has instituted the ‘Merlin Award’, the Oscar of magic, and is known for making the skull float, believes magic is an art and a business too.

“I studied magic when I was 16 years old. India, where magic is a traditional form of art, has a lot of talent. Sadly, the magicians are starving. It’s becoming a vanishing art. It needs to be protected by making it commercial and linking it with tourism like in Thailand and Las Vegas,” he said.

Likewise, the art of illusion, skill and more importantly, the ability to entertain, is dying in Bangladesh, China and Indonesia, areas once renowned for magic.

Hassini, accompanying magician Rajkumar, who is known for currency trick, has plans for India, the land of ancient magical art and mystics.

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“I am planning a Magic Olympics in India which will see a galaxy of world-renowned magicians and illusionists. Of course, this will help saving the dying Indian magic industry that lacks innovation in magic props and presentation,” said the magician, who wants to make it commercial in India.

He said magic has the universal language and no boundaries.

He also has advice for parents.

According to Hassini, magic tricks not only sharpen the brain of the children as they have to think a lot but also make them more confident, smarter and sociable.

“The magic school lessons also encourage skills and critical thinking. It’s better than computer games and teaches that every problem has a simple solution.”

Magic in no superpower, he said. It’s simply an art that needs patience and lots of practice.

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Born in 1941, Hassini migrated to London at the age 16. At that time, he couldn’t utter a word of English.

He got a dish-washer’s job in a restaurant in London and that’s where he discovered a nearby magic shop. From there, began his magical rags-to-richness journey.

His hunt for the world’s greatest magician/illusionist is on.

“I will be travelling to over 100 countries to search for the world’s greatest magician,” he said.

So far he has travelled to 26 countries.

“Had I given up on my fifth business which failed, I would have been a loser. But I went on to the sixth one, McDonalds. If that had failed, I would have gone on to my seventh, eighth and ninth, and so forth and so on, until I made it,” added Hassini, whose magic organisation records 37,000 members worldwide.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])



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