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Musical Story through a Magical Journey : By Ashok Bhandari

As a magician I would always want to do tricks to bewilder my audience, but today I am more interested in narrating my musical story through a magical journey.

The post-Independence era of India marks upon an interesting time when, the major chapter of every Indian opened to new thoughts, way of living and perceptions towards looking at life. I am that fortunate soul who still continues to add many pages to it. Through this blog, Myself, Mr. Ashok Bhandari, stand virtually before a huge audience who are keen to read these written pages of my life. My journey of thousand miles has added many anecdotes which establishes a bridge with past and present. From receiving an award by the first prime minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru to performing recently before the king of Jordon, I have not just had opportunity to connect with icons of the past but of present day too.

The day I decided that my life was magical suddenly that magic was all around me. I saw miracles in everything, the tune in chirping birds, the marvels of artistic strokes in my father’s paintings, the mysticism of Sadhus on the banks of river Ganges, to the melody of Harmonica. I started performing music from the age of 8, at annual day, school fest, and local events. This helped me make some pocket money, part of which I invested in buying harmonicas. Of about 40 precious collection - the costliest one being a Suzuki G-48 costing 1000 USD, My favourite one remains the one that, I first bought from a balloon seller. I had once pinched my brother’s harmonica from his drawer 😉 and I still remember that slap! That moment, I decided that I will buy myself a Harmonica. And I bought one! 😊

Magic as well happens when your hobbies turn into passions. And when magic and music are both combined, the concoction created from these artistic brews is truly intoxicating. As a professional magician I decided to incorporate harmonica with my magic shows. I have travelled to over hundred times abroad. Russia, Jordan, Italy, Japan, Austria, Germany etc… And I would often conclude my shows with a trick involving the Harmonica. A crew member would walk up to me with an empty tray. With magic, Harmonica would appear in the tray from nowhere. And then… I would go on to play the Harmonica for another five- six minutes. So effective was the trick that the audience would always feel that the Harmonica too was being played because of magical powers. It is the only instrument closest to human body. We kiss it with our mouth. Blow it with the lungs. Pump our hearts into it. And finally, when we put our soul in it, music appears from within. I strongly believe that harmonica also has great health benefits. It can improve breathing, lung capacity, concentration, a therapy for de- addiction of nicotine, healing stress and so on.

Everyone learns Harmonica as a hobby. But I decided to take it at further level. Besides Milon Gupta and Madan Kumar who I consider my inspirations, I do not have a single guru. I learnt from numerous artists. As a child, I would sit next to a madari and learn the way he did tricks with the monkey. I would step out of my house to buy vegetables and return home after following a roadside flute player the whole day. I absorbed whatever I could from anyone and everyone. I believe that guru, teacher is like a cow. If you want milk, you will have to feed her, take care of her. And if nothing works, you just have to surrender and pray. It is only then that the flow of knowledge begins.

Having an MA in Banaras Hindu university didn’t stop me pursuing my unusual passion for magic and music. I was the first one to come up with a serial on Doordarshan- Chamatkar Banam Thaggi based on myths and tricks performed by god-men in the name of spiritual powers. As a child, people would ask me- Kya karte ho? And I would say- magic. And then people would say- Aur Kya Karte Ho?” (CHUCKLES! ) Since Banaras was the city of knowledge and music, I was blessed to have worked with famous musicians like Girija devi, Siddheshwar devi. And later after moving out to different cities, I worked with Sonu Nigam and his father based at Delhi. The filmmaker Mr. Mahesh Bhatt ji , one day expressed as to how he felt lively hearing me play makes it evident as to how this tiny instrument can mesmerize the listeners.

After series of achievements at various events, ALL INDIA RADIO, recognized and gave me opportunity to perform with them for 3 years. I am now connected to various NGOS and event organisers across the globe. Today, the technology has thrown open its arms by allowing me touch the universally spread out audience through my YouTube channel, and website. I now continue to teach harmonica from my professionally set studio office in Delhi through Skype and offline.

“I wish that all the weapons of the world turn into harmonicas then they would act like magical wands. And then instead of crossing swords against each in conflict we would all be singing and playing music. This would make the world a beautiful and peaceful place”

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