• 30 Sep - 06 Oct, 2017
  • Sana Lokhandwala
  • Interview

He doesn’t wear a cape nor has a magic wand, but he can certainly look into your eyes, travel through your mind and reveal some of your most treasured secrets. Meet Pakistan’s first-ever mystery performer and mind reader, Shaheer Khan. He has the ability to captivate your interest with his endowment and bewitch you with his prowess. The man of extraordinary talents decodes the mystery around his work and life in a heart-to-heart conversation with MAG.

The 26-year-old mystery man is one of a kind in Pakistan and has the ability to do what many think of as a super power. “I have two core abilities; predicting human behaviour and reading people’s minds. I tell people what they think and how they think and am an expert in reading people’s body language,” which, he believes, also helps him estimate what people will do in future.

What he does falls under the realm of Mentalism, the world of impossible. “There are two forms of Mentalism; some people are known to have psychic powers that they use to read people’s mind and predict future, while there is another set of people who do not claim to have any such powers but they use their known senses to create a delusion of the sixth sense,” says the highly intuitive man who doesn’t claim to have any supernatural powers. “I just look at people and make an educated guess about them.”

Revealing a chosen card or making rabbits appear out of thin air is one thing, but when someone gets inside your head and reads your thoughts, that’s what freaks you out. “The worst people have said about me is that I have jinns and ghosts. What I do is creepy for people but there is a science behind this. It is nothing like they show you in the movies – you look at a person and you start seeing images and hear voices – it’s nothing like that. There is nothing supernatural and psychic about it,” reassures the self-taught illusionist who has his own unique style. “All my ideas and techniques are original. The way I approach it and the way I read people is completely different from what other people do,” he points out.

He performs live in a theatre and on television with myriad of onlookers. With a huge audience comes a great pressure to get things right every single time. Has he ever been wrong during his performances? “Of course, I have been wrong on my live shows and on TV. But I am right most of the time because I have done it so many times over the years,” he shares.

Why does this self-assured man fail to read someone accurately? I enquire. “Sometimes, I am plain wrong at reading people. Sometimes, I like getting it wrong intentionally, so I can turn things around in the end and other times people lie, act smart and change their answers,” he says with a smirk. “Now I ask people to write down their answers so they can’t change it later.” Talking about his strategies, he discloses, “I am always improvising and thinking on my feet. You can never read two people in the same way. It’s just a matter of approaching a situation differently.”

The ability to read minds and predict future calls for a lot of practice and hard work. “What you see me do now is after 13 years of practice, talking to people and trying different things,” reveals the man who is no less than a prodigy.

How does he prepare himself for his performances? I ask. “You have to be in a focused state. I meditate a lot. An hour before every performance, I cut off all human interaction. I switch my phone off and don’t talk to anyone,” he replies.

Despite the fact that he started off with magic, Khan doesn’t like to be dubbed as a magician. “Outside my school, there used to be a toy seller and every now and then he would have some magic tricks that he would sell. He used to put up a little magic show for kids, so they could buy stuff from him. I was very fascinated with those things so I would buy them, practice at home and then perform the tricks for my friends at school,” says the lad who loves magic tricks.

In his early days, while Khan was practicing his craft, he always thought of it as a hobby and never thought he could take it up professionally. With his big dreams and high aims, he wished to become an astronaut. “I really want to go to the moon one day. The idea of sending someone off the face of the planet and into space is so cool,” he reveals. However, he soon realised that “the dream was too high and up there to achieve,” so he set his eyes on becoming a film-maker.

“I applied to a film school abroad, got accepted, got a scholarship but my parents didn’t approve of it. They thought if I go abroad, I will change and never come back,” he recollects. Subsequently, he went to Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and studied Communications Design. “I was there for two years but while I was there, instead of learning art, all I would do was show tricks at the canteen and practice mind reading. I was a hit in school but it was never about the degree,” he confesses. Khan dropped out of the art school after two years and it was during this time that he became conscious of his true calling. “I realised I should be on stage – performing – even if it doesn’t work out. I am not the kind of a person who would work to make a living. I am doing what I love and even if I was not getting paid for it, I would be doing it for free,” says the artiste for whom “fame and money is just a bonus.”

He wrote a 90-minute theatre show that he called The Other Side and with something as unique as his show, he was soon on stage, performing for a live audience and that’s where he got noticed. “A couple of mutual friends invited people from TV to my show and when they saw me perform, they thought I should be on television” and there was no turning back since then.

Khan’s family not only offered their unmitigated support but also encouraged the trailblazer to reach the heights of success. “They had seen me doing all of this while I was growing up and they know the kind of happiness I get from it. They are 100 per cent supportive and I love them for that,” he opens up. “Whenever I come up with something new, my brother, mom and maid are my test audience. They are always the first ones to go through everything,” he shares.

Everything comes with its own pros and cons and Khan doesn’t shy away from admitting that his powers are both a blessing and curse. “It has helped me a lot in my love life. I know what exactly a girl is thinking about me, so I know how to make the right moves,” he says. Speaking of the downside, he admits, “I have lost a lot of friends because they found out I could read minds. They were like ‘is bande se door raho.’”

Is there anyone who can cast spells on this wizard? I enquire. “There is nothing like casting spells going on in my life right now,” he smiles coyly. “I have met some great people in life but not someone who is heading in the same direction as me. I want someone as crazy and reckless as me,” he unveils.

Khan paints his own image in these words: “I am really complicated as a person. I am very difficult to understand but at the same time I am very easy going. I am like a bird who likes to fly in any direction. I live in this bubble of mine where anything is possible.” His mantra for life is simple: “I believe if we keep worrying about things and we don’t attempt them, they wouldn’t happen. So, we should just do things and then worry about what’s going to happen.”

If he could choose one person to read their mind, who would it be? “Blake Lively!” he blurts out. “She is very elegant and enchanting,” he blushes. Khan is also a Batman fan and has a huge collection of all kinds of Batman memorabilia and toys. He has a life-size Batman statue in his room, a replica of the Dark Night suit that he can actually wear and this is not where it ends. He has materialised his Batman fantasies by building himself a fully functional replica of the Batmobile, the Tumbler.

What does the future hold for the man who has become a well-known entertainer and garnered a huge fan following in just two years? “The aim is to be the David Copperfield of Pakistan. People always say that I can make a big name in Vegas but I want to stay here. I would love to do shows all over the world but I want to be here. I want people to come to Pakistan to see Shaheer Khan,” he signs off sharing his plans to start his own mystery school in the future.