Manick Sorcar, the Man with the Laser Touch
The son of renowned conjurer PC Sorcar weaves his own magic with laser art.
If there is someone who can rightfully say “there is magic in the air” it is Manick Sorcar. The Colorado-based artiste has, after all, breathed magic all his life, right from the time he was born to PC Sorcar, the acclaimed Padma Shri-winning jadugar behind the popular Indrajal Show. From watching his father perform vanishing tricks with the silverware at the dining table as a child to creating his own stupendous laser animation shows, Manick’s life over the last seven decades has largely revolved around the creation of powerful visual fantasy.
The laser-animator has won a lot of international acclaim – including the Award of Merit at Accolade Global Film Competition for his laser animation creation Beautiful Mess that he won in June this year — for his work over the past four decades of his life in the United States. And all these years, he has actively attempted to bridge the cultural gap between India and the West through fine arts, cartoons, animations, laser arts, and stage shows with live action mixed with laser animation.
“I love my homeland India and proud of her rich culture,” the 72-year-old artiste, born in Tangail (now in Bangladesh), tells Little India. “I also love the USA, my adopted land, and the country of opportunities. My life’s goal is to bring a better understanding between the two countries through my little means of art.”
Sorcar’s portfolio flaunts a wide range of topics that are inspired from and explore Indian history, mythology and regional literature. His short animation films on the Panchatantra, or those adapted from works of writers such as Sukumar Ray became popular at elementary schools in the U.S. as an effective media to educate American children about another culture. His efforts were recognized by Colorado governor John W. Hickenlooper in 2015, who wrote: “For a quarter of a century, your animation films have taken children on a special journey to the lands of India where they have learned more of her culture and people. These films have taught that diversity is an asset and what brings us together is our common thread of humanity irrespective of where we grew up.”
When he moved on from animations to work with laser beams, Sorcar took the venture a step ahead from the usual shows. “I try to use the manipulated strong beam of light as a paint brush for thematic animation that tells a story, and evokes emotions,” he says.
One of the emotions his works have never failed to arouse among viewers is the sense of pride for their Indian heritage. With shows such as Our Republic’s Birth, which celebrated India’s 61st Republic Day at the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, Enlightenment of Buddha, which was performed on stage at the Denver Center for Performing Arts, and Swamiji, a laser documentary on the life of Swami Vivekananda, he made sure his passion touched a chord with the audience. Just the way it did with his two daughters who were born in the United States. When the two were young, Sorcar and his wife used to write children’s songs in Bengali, for which he composed the music, and then encouraged their daughters to sing them.
The conscious involvement of his daughters in his shows perhaps stems from the fact that his father had engaged him in his acts. Sorcar, in fact, first got hands-on experience in art at the back stage of his father’s magic shows, when he started painting some props, and quickly moved on to paint large settings. “One thing led to another and soon I found myself playing with stage lighting to enhance the artwork,” he recalls, narrating how he got the urge to learn more about the science of lighting, and took up illumination as a subject while pursuing electrical engineering at Benares Hindu University.
His interest intensified when he came to the United States to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Washington in 1972. The passion, however, was not at the cost of the art that has been the first love of his family for eight generations. Though both his brothers — PC Sorcar, Jr. and PC Sorcar, Young – became magicians, Manick chose not to take it up as a profession. “I was more inclined to pursue my own interest,” he says.
So does he perform any magic now? “Of course, I do!” he retorts. “In my stage shows, we keep at least one or two magic items in my father’s honor.”
Guess, that’s the magic of magic.