Before German mentalist Nicolai Friedrich casts his spell on Mumbai at a charity event by Ashvin Gidwani Productions, he tells us of the unknown potential of the human mind, his early influences in magic and cracking future lottery numbers, if he could travel in time
Q. This is your second act in Mumbai. What can the audience look forward to this time?
A. I’ve brought some new acts; so, fans who will be seeing me again, will also experience something new. For the audience, it is a journey full of wonder, comedy and interaction. I do not possess any supernatural powers. My talent is a mixture of an entertaining personality, creativity, sleight of hand and mental skills like psychological knowledge and the power of suggestion.
Nicolai Friedrich admires how David Copperfield draws emotions among the audience while doing magic tricks
Q. What’s more challenging — being a mentalist or a magician?
A. Unlike magicians, mentalists do not use big boxes or make a white rabbit appear out of a top-hat, but instead try to enter our most sacred place — our mind. Our mind has much more potential than most of us are currently aware of. If you train and use some of that hidden potential, you can do things that seem like miracles to others. Moreover, if you have studied the psychology of human nature and know certain ways in which people behave, it is easy to detect a lie or predict a future behaviour. Our body is constantly screaming out information, so if you think your secret thoughts are safe in your head as long as you keep your mouth shut, you are wrong. Being a mentalist could be more challenging also because you have more interaction with your audience. Since every human is different, you have to be able to deal with different personalities and behaviours. Therefore, you will need a lot of experience and human knowledge.
Q. What are the three most important traits of a successful mentalist?
A. Firstly, you have to be interested in how the human mind works. Secondly, you have to be an entertaining personality and develop your own style, otherwise reading minds will get quite boring after a while. Thirdly, you have to be creative and come up with new mind blowing acts to amaze your audience.
Q. Which is the one act that was the most difficult for you to master?
A. Actually, there is no single act. Each new act is difficult at the beginning. Some creations will need a few years before they reach absolute perfection. For example, my act with a borrowed photo has evolved over time.
Q. Do you remember the first time you performed a magic trick?
A. At the age of four, I saw a magician perform in a circus. I was so amazed by this experience that I wanted to become a magician myself. From then on, I invested all my time and money in learning new magic tricks. There is a photograph of me at the age of four, when I made a ball levitate. This was probably my first magic trick.
Q. If time-travel was possible, which era would you like to visit and why?
A. I would prefer to go into the future and then return to the present. Maybe, I could use my knowledge to change history, if necessary, by preventing certain mistakes or catastrophes from happening. Also, I will have the knowledge of all future lottery numbers.
Q. Who are your inspirations?
A. The first magic show I saw (performed by an unknown magician) was probably the cornerstone of my career. Later, I was a big fan of the early Star Wars films and of course, I wanted to become a Jedi. Today, I am a big fan of surrealistic art like Salvador Dali. There are many magicians and mentalists who have inspired me and influenced my work, but most of them are not very well known. However, I still admire how David Copperfield turns a magic trick into an emotional experience for the audience. I also love the creative and entertaining way in which Derren Brown performs mentalism in his live shows.
On: Today, 7 pm
At: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
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