He can look into your eyes for just seconds and reveal the secret number of your ATM card. At first you may think he is a magician, but he’s not.
“I am Adarsh Aathi. I am a mentalist,” he introduces himself.
Mentalist Aathi became an overnight sensation, soon after Malayalam blockbuster Pretham was released across India. The character played by the hero Jayasurya in the film was largely inspired by Aathi.
“These days people recognise me easily and they want me to do some or the other trick,” Aathi said with a smile.
He has been globetrotting for the past few years to hone his skills and is now busy helping the police solve crimes, and works as a creative consultant in the movie industry and is busy shuttling between countries doing his shows.
Excerpts from the interview.
What exactly is ‘mentalism’ or a ‘mentalist’?
A mentalist is a person, who can psychologically redirect human thoughts and behaviour. And mentalism is a performing art form, in which the artist appears to demonstrate highly developed mental acuity. For me, this performing art is the blend of psychology, suggestion/hypnosis, magic, misdirection, and showmanship.
What sets a mentalist apart from a magician?
A magician is about the sleight of hand, and creating visual distractions with tricks and timing. A mentalist on the other hand, creates a ‘psychological illusion.’ Some professions call it mind reading. However, I would like to think this way: Consider a smart guy in the room, who is always planning and running ahead of you, with his psychological trickery.
Can a psychologist be a good mentalist?
Well, I would say a mentalist can be a good psychologist.
Your show is very polished and entertaining. How did you attain this level of professionalism for one so young?
There was this great quote by Leonardo Da Vinci, that I’ve been inspired by: “Details make perfection but perfection has no detail.” I think of it every time I practice. Learning and improving us is a never-ending process. I am still a student of this art.
The film ‘Pretham’ has made you the most sought after person in Kerala today and the movie is loosely based on your life too. How was this journey?
It was a long journey. I began to learn about this from a very young age. I was inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Somewhere in my mind, I always wanted to be like him. The spark was from there and I began to look out for books that can help me with this. It was a self-learning process and I travelled a lot to gain that. It’s heartening to see people are getting inspired by my work and yes after Pretham, my phone has never stopped ringing.
It’s heartening to see people are getting inspired by my work.
Like it says in the film ‘Pretham’, for several years you travelled across the globe on luxury cruise liners as an entertainer, before finally returning to India. Why did you go away?
I decided to travel strictly for educational purposes, to learn more, to explore the world. I’ve been doing research in behaviour psychology and non-verbal communication for a long time. To study the cultural body’s languages, I had to travel to different regions of the world. Travelling and working on cruise liners made things easy for me. Rest is all history.
You are already assisting the police and working with corporate houses, and many more with your skill of deception analysis. Can you tell us more about this?
The association has been very productive, and I feel privileged to be associated with the department in investigating against ‘Scam and Fraud in Extraordinary Claims.’ I do give lectures at various law and order agencies within and outside the country. It has always been my mission to expose ‘fakes.’
Which is the most difficult trick you have performed till date?
Whenever I design a new effect, this is the thought in mind. Now I love to answer ‘I’m still working on it.’
Does mind reading involve intuition or the sixth sense?
Did we explore enough of the five we have yet? Human beings have more than 20 senses. I have never heard anywhere people discuss that, though we say there are five primary senses. The key here is to use these five senses together more appropriately to create an illusion of the sixth.