Suhani Shah kick-started her journey to achieve the pillars of success at a tender age of 7. She is a magician, orator, psychosomatic counsellor and a powerful hypnotherapist. This 23 year old, carries a bag of 16 years of experience which makes her a bunch of confidence, wisdom and understanding. Performing shows, travelling to different places, meeting different people with different mentalities has become Suhani’s way of life.
Can you give us a small description about you as a person. Tell us in particular about your childhood, family and anecdote.
Suhani : I come from a simple middle class family. I started performing magic when I was 7. Even when I was a child I have always wanted to be different. I wanted to do things in a unique way when people at my age didn’t. I was curious by nature which kept me seeking for new things. I remember doing things that people elder than me did. I always wanted to learn, explore and be the best at the things I do. My inspiration has always been my father. I was always pushed to bring out a positive note to exceed the expectations that was set on me on doing anything. I lived my life to the motto – “If you are not able to do something at its best don’t ever try to do it”.
Tell us about your career path from the age of 7 to now being a successful magician.
Suhani : I always wanted to stand out from the usual crowd especially with regards to my career. I didn’t want to be a singer, dancer, teacher, doctor or an engineer because from what I saw, most about me wanted to do all that. I was intrigued by magic as a child. I wanted to take up magic as a hobby. I was mesmerized by the way magicians hold a crowd in rapture. So, I went up to my father one day, when I couldn’t differentiate chalk from cheese and told him I wanted to be a magician. On my 7th birthday, I remember doing my first magic show in Gujarat. The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shankersinh Vaghela was at the function, this kickstarted my then hobby into my profession. I later, travelled across major cities where I performed and was recognized. My profession has been a hobby that has turned into a career now. There is always a rapturous passion associated with it as I enjoy doing it.
What was the spark that made you choose a career with such uniqueness. Was it gifted naturally?
Suhani : I took on magic as it interested me. I self learnt the art and now pursue it as a career. I wanted to take up magic because it was an off beat path and it made me feel enthusiastic ever since I was a small girl. I wanted to do something on a large scale to entertain people, while at the same time I wanted to enjoy my career and be a performer.
Tell us about the Challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Suhani : I started at 7 now I’m 23, I have had a long ride of 16 years. There has been a lot of ups and downs in that time. Travelling about India was the first thing that affected my education. There came a point when I had to go to the States, and along with it came the decision of whether I wanted to perform in front of 60,000 people or sit among 60 people in a class. My choice was outright, and so were my parents’- I wanted to perform. They wanted me to keep up the showmanship and told me that I could continue my education later on my own. For me, language was a very big problem, as I wasn’t able to speak English very well. But as I stabilized my career I started taking education simultaneously, I learnt English and I had a few books published. I had to follow a procedure of self learning that was quite challenging. Moreover, there was always criticism that came from the crowd pointing out my age and my profession. Moreover magicians were not quite accepted a few years ago in India but the scene has shifted with the development of the art. But criticism was more on me for performing at my age and not going to school. They looked at me as a someone who wouldn’t have a stable career. But with the passage of time, the scenario has changed and I have learnt a lot about managing almost all aspects that my life demands from me.
You have been wearing many hats other than being just a magician, and have been successful in each one of it. Tell us about your inspiration behind it.
Suhani : I had to travel a lot when performances were on. Through that I learnt a lot about people and their culture. There are so many places in India, where people truly believe magic. There were weird beliefs that magic could cure illness, or catch a thief. They had too much belief in supernatural power, superstitions and some unknown “shakti”. It was not easy for me to make them understand that I was artist and did not have any extraordinary powers. An incident at Maharashtra on a person’s belief about a superstition made me realize that believing in something is connected to one’s psychological assessment of things. From then on, I wanted to be a psychological counsellor. I learnt about it and asked myself as to why not deliver it in the form of a book? I developed a command over English and started working on publishing a book. Afterwards I had opportunities of doing workshops on it. As we had huge responses from these workshops, I later opened a centre at Goa where people could reach me better. All of these happened in a flow.
You choose a career path, which was in you. What word of advice do you hold for the students of today to follow their heart?
Suhani : Today there is exposure in anything and everything one wants to do. One can get experience and exposure in every field. There is an opportunity to grow in every field. Everybody has a passion and if combined with sincerity, things automatically fall into place. Support and help will come on its own if one is confident and follows his heart with sincerity and dedication.
How can the skills from magical training (or any art form) be applied for a student’s professional life?
Suhani : Being an artist I can vouch for the fact that it demands lots of focus, concentration, determination, positivity, courage but other than these, it makes you a better thinker, shows you what life is about. It develops the strength in you to get up and walk even when you’ve hit the ground badly. There are a lot of benefits that relate to a student’s life.
What should one look for in a mentor particularly in an art form like magic?
Suhani : In an art such as magic, a mentor is not required. One learns magic by themselves. One has to be willing to learn and understand the tricks, orient himself to present what he has learnt in the best way. A lot of presentation skills have to developed and understand people’s psychology. A magician has to be an actor, public speaker, should be able to multi task, and link himself psychologically to the public.
If you are a mentor, what do you have to say for one to be successful?
Suhani : We all have the ingredients within us to drive ourselves to be successful. We are born to be successful, nobody is born to be a failure. If someone ends being a failure in life, somewhere we made a mistake which could be fixed. One has to understand the problem, rectify it, and find a permanent solution to it. Life is very simple but we end up complicating our life and then struggle to rectify it. Therefore, quite simply don’t complicate life and then raise the need to rectify it.
There are a few start-ups in India like Twenty19 which are promoting internship culture among undergraduate students. Can you highlight some of the advantages of such internships?
Suhani : There are a lot of advantages, because it gives one a hands on experience of a job. They have an opportunity to implement what they learnt. They get to know about themselves as a professional, and skill set they possess. They can understand where they lack and what they need to improve on. It helps them to develop mentally and physically for a job. Internships should be taken up by college students seriously and must be pursued.
Websites like Twenty19 promote the concept of taking initiatives during college, DOing more – in your opinion, how can students make use of their time in college / youth better?
Suhani : Students can get involved in a lot of communities and groups for them to improve as an individual. Learning is a continuous process and the most can be brought about is when one is at college. Develop interpersonal skills, network in a healthy way with people, understand what your career is going to be and work on it. It is the best time to improve oneself.