P. C. Sorcar was the stage name of Protul Chandra Sorcar, who is considered as the greatest Indian magician who had his magnificent magic shows in India and abroad throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He called his magic “Indrajal” and had show before live audiences and on television. He was honoured with the Padma Shri award, one of the highest civilian awards by the Government of India in 1964.
Protul Chandra Sorcar was born on February 23, 1913 in the small town of Tangail in the Mymensingh district of British india; which is now in Bangladesh. He was born into a family who had been magicians for seven generations. His father’s name was Bhagawan Chandra Sorcar and mother, Kusum Kamini. He had a brother, Atul Chandra, who was ten years younger than him.
Sorcar was a brilliant student since childhood. He passed from Tangail Shibnath High School in 1929 with first class. In 1931, he passed his Intermediate of Arts degree from the Karotia College with a first class. He then did his Bachelor of Arts with Honours in mathematics from Ananda Mohan College.
From his childhood, Sorcar was fascinated with magic and was very passionate about pursuing a career as a magician. The original family name was “Sarcar”, but he changed it to “Sorcar” so that it could be more close to the word “Sorcery.” He took up the full-time profession of magic, after he appeared for his BA degree examination in 1933. His devotion to magic soon brought its own rewards. His unique feats of the newly cultivated art won acclaim from the public as well as the press.
He became famous in the mid-1930s, when he performed several shows in Kolkata. Sorcar spread his magical charm out of India when in 1934, he performed in Japan. The success encouraged him to venture further and at the time of his death, P. C. Sorcar had visited over 70 countries all over the world. He was hailed as a great magician from India who gave the art of Indian magic a new cultural background which found a strong international appeal.
He brought to his shows, very exquisite props which had never been seen before. He also had great stage settings that really brought out the themes of the shows. All his stuntmen and performers wore especially designed colorful costumes which attracted people to the shows. He had a great, highly professional marketing team who prepared giant billboards and posters around each city he went. This would draw huge crowd to his shows who wanted to see more of this magician.
His acts were so good, that he was able to break the theatre attendance records in many countries. He was also a great TV personality and his shows were watched by audiences in whichever country it was telecast.
Among his large repertoire of magic acts; one of the most appreciated one was where he did a Floating Lady routine featuring suspension of a body in air, which he started from 1964 onwards. There are many other famous acts performed by Sorcar during his lifetime magic career. Some of the notable magic tricks he performed are; the X-Ray Man, in this act he would blindfold himself and still see the writing of audience; Aerial Suspension; Water of India, and many more.
P. C. Sorcar was known for his spectacular sets and costumes. He perfected his acts to an extent never been seen before in India and anywhere else in the world. During performances, he would wear his self-styled “Maharaja robe” and plumed turban. He presented elaborate optical illusions emphasised by dazzling light effects, which were hallmarks of his shows.
He was also the author of 22 books in Bengali and English, on various aspects of the craft of magic. Some of his most famous books are History of Magic, Hindu Magic, and Sorcar on Magic.
On January 6, 1971, Sorcar died of a heart attack at the age of 58, when he was in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan during one of his performance. He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. He was so passionate and committed to his craft to the extent that he died while performing magic.
Sorcar was married to Basanti Devi, who died on 26 December 2009, in Kolkata. They had three sons; magicians P. C. Sorcar Jr. and P. C. Sorcar Young; and Manick Sorcar who is an animator and director. His son, P. C. Sorcar Jr. is the eighth in a line of eight generations of magicians.
Awards and Honours
- The Government of India has named a major street in Calcutta after him, as Jadu Samrat P. C. Sorcar Sarani.
- Padma Shri award by the President of India on 26 January 1964.
- As an honour, Indian Post issued a Rs. 5/- stamp on his birth anniversary in 2010.
- The Sphinx (Oscar of Magic), US, 1946 and 1954
- The Royal Medallion, German Magic Circle
P. C. Sorcar single-handedly took Indian magic to new heights worldwide due to his showmanship, fluency of the English language, charm, charisma, and intelligence. It is said that he never failed the crowd and regaled his audience in a magical world. He will always be remembered as ‘Jadu Samrat P. C. Sorcar’.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah