} Catching Up With Akshay Laxman, The Mentalist

People in India have been known to enjoy magical tricks and performances for centuries. With modern day distractions like the video games, cell phones and social media, one often wonders if the art of magical performance and illusion has become a dying art.

We bring to you Akshay Laxman who is determined to keep the art of magic alive and kicking. Be it stage performances or even TV shows, Akshay is there to cast a spell over you. We interacted with him to find out more about his fascinating journey and know more about this powerhouse of talent!

Q. How did you first get interested in magic? Was there an event, a person who influenced you, a show you saw?
I was heavily inspired by three magicians at three very crucial stages of my life.
BEGINNING - When I was barely 3 or 4 years old, DAVID COPPERFIELD shows were being aired on DD1 & DD Metro. My entire family and cousins used to watch it and be absolutely baffled. Though I understood very little of what’s going on, it was clear to me that there’s something called as “MAGIC” and it wows people. So, David Copperfield inspired me to get into the hobby of magic.
SERIOUS HOBBY - When I was 12 years old, DAVID BLAINE came on AXN and he completely blew me away! He changed the way I and the rest of the world perceived magic. I changed my acts completely after watching him. He was a person without big boxes or assistants.
PROFESSION- Finally at the age of 20 I saw DERREN BROWN and I decided that this is the path I am headed on - Mentalism and since then till now (29 years age) I have been blessed enough to become the highest paid Mentalist in India.

Q. Talking about your journey in Bollywood as a Mentalist, how has the experience been so far?
Well, people back then i.e. 7 years ago, had no clue what a mentalist is. The struggle to get a platform for the right audience was a real tough one. When Karan Johar saw me on India’s Got Talent... he said that he had never seen anything like this. He was so excited that he shared my number with Aamir Khan and then I was later invited to Perform for Aamir Khan and his family! My best friend Rudraneel Halder whom I also call “RICK” said to me at that time “Do you realize that by creating such a strong positive aura amongst Bollywood celebs, you’re also opening doors for so many magicians now to be Invited by Bollywood Stars, solely because their experience with you has been absolutely out of this world!” And his words came true! Many many magicians have been given a chance from that point to be invited and Bollywood celeb parties. Thankfully, Akshay Laxman still resonates with the word “our favorite” mentalist amongst many Bollywood celebs.

Q. Your work has been appreciated by many Bollywood biggies, was this your ultimate goal? 
Magic itself was never my goal, let alone performing for Bollywood biggies. It so happened that there was a temporary financial crisis in the family when I was 19, so I started taking up shows for 2000 Rupees. The financial crisis recovered soon enough, but my journey as a professional began. But since I always wanted to be a Film Maker, I incorporated my Bollywood flavor in my shows and that caught the attention of the Bollywood biggies. Infact, my biggest moment of surprise was that after my 2 show for Aamir Khan, Rang De Basanti’s director Rakesh Omprakash Mehra told me “You should write a film script. You’ll be in the top 5 of the country.”

Q. What is your take on corporate events? Have you been a part of any?
Haha. Corporate events are my bread & butter. In the past 10 years, I have done nearly 700 Corporate Shows. From Tata Motors to Audi and from Samsung to Apple, I have performed every kind and type and scale of corporation in India and Abroad. Of all the shows I do, 99% of them are corporate events.

Q. In the intensely competitive entertainment space, how do you maintain your equilibrium?
See, when you open a market for an entire industry, then you no longer have competition. I have no competition. The amount of money the major corporations are ready to pay me, the second-best option in the market is getting paid half of it. So, where is the competition? I have a responsibility of pushing the scale and the magnitude of this Industry. I feel and have been proven right by my experience, that the more I move forward and get paid more, automatically the ones who came after me, start getting paid more. So here my job is to set and reset the industry standard.

Q. Tell us something about your upcoming projects and your plans for future.
The plan is to bring magic in the commercial aspects equal to Stand Up comedy, which itself has barely had its deserving standards for 10 years. Magicians and mentalists still are not getting paid of what they deserve. Me being the highest paid Mentalist in the country is still somewhere on the 'above average' Stand Up Comedian pay scale. And let’s not even begin comparing with singers. That market is already an ever-inflating balloon! The very reason for this comparison is based on the feedback that I receive after my shows from the clients “Your act was genuinely value for money! We paid that comedian/singer way more, but it was such a disappointment.”

Q. Any word of advice you would like to give to the fresh new talents looking to break into the Magic world?
This is a one-way street. Once you start, do not pause. Don’t say to yourself that you’ll do it part time along with other jobs. In the dark days, off season days, don’t lose hope. Don’t get demoralized and quit. Work on increasing your demand rather than flattering people to give you work. 

Tags: NA