Monday, 12 December 2016

Kabir Khan the newly appointed Tourism Malaysia ambassador to the United States and United Kingdom, world-renowned Kuala Lumpur boy, magician and mentalist,

Kabir Khan to use magic, psychic abilities to bring fame to Malaysia

CLASS ACT: As newly appointed Tourism Malaysia ambassador to the United States and United Kingdom, world-renowned Kuala Lumpur boy, magician and mentalist, Kabir Khan, 31, talks to Audrey Vijaindren about his fears, aspirations and plans to use magic and psychic abilities to bring the country fame

Question: How did you get into the world of magic?

Answer: Back in the early 1990s, RTM (Radio Televisyen Malaysia) played a series of iconic magician David Copperfield’s shows. I saw him walk through the Great Wall of China, make an aircraft disappear and much more. That got me excited as it was something unique and out of this world, so I picked it up.

When I was in Form One, I told myself I wanted to make this a career. Halfway through secondary school, I had two choices — be a magician or a pilot. I liked both, but I told myself I had to try magic. I believe the path that the universe has set out for me led to this.

After school, I pursued marketing at a private college, and I wanted to make extra money during the weekends. Every Friday and Saturday, I had a job at Holiday Villa Hotel performing table-top magic for guests having their meals. It was a good training ground but I wanted more than that.

So in 2008, I did a specialised course in the United States. The institution trained and fine-tuned my skills. You could say that they taught me to be more “fluent”. Even big names in the field, such as David Copperfield and Ben Chavez, attended courses there.

I started out with magic, but in 2009, psychic Uri Geller, who is famous for bending spoons, asked me to explore the psychic field because he saw something in me. And, here I am today.

Question: How supportive were your parents with your career choice?

Answer: Any parent would be fearful and get a shock. They wanted me to get a degree first, and naturally, parents are very protective. They were supportive of me doing it as a hobby. Back then, you saw magicians performing only at parties, but they showed their support by buying me equipment.

Education is important, so I educated myself. Magic aside, you need to educate yourself on how to promote, market and sell to move forward. I attended lots of courses to better myself.

Question: Who are your role models in the industry?

Answer: I truly respect iconic magician David Copperfield. He performs more than 500 shows a year. How does he do it? He still performs till today. I look up to him a lot. But I must say that my role model is Uri Geller. I relate very well with him and we get along splendidly.

Question: With so many peers in the industry, how did you break the glass ceiling?

Answer: I received worldwide attention when Jack Canfield, who co-authored the all-time classic, Chicken Soup for the Soul, featured me in his New York Times bestseller, The Success Principles 10th Anniversary Edition (HarperCollins 2015).

He told me if I made it, he would write about me, and he kept his promise by dedicating four pages of the book to me, in “The magic of visualisation — how to visualise and attain it”. I was overwhelmed. This was the most memorable event for me because my story will inspire people and that was wonderful for me.

I was recently featured once again in Canfield’s new book, Living The Success Principles — Inspiring Stories of Real People Achieving Extraordinary Results and my story was the first. It highlighted Malaysia as well.

Question: As the new tourism ambassador, what are your fears and aspirations?

Answer: The tourism sector is a golden bridge between two countries. My aspiration is to showcase Malaysia as an experiment in unity. We have more than seven races here, yet we live in peace and unity; that is my macro aspiration. My micro aspiration is to show to the world that Malaysia is beautiful, safe and cost-friendly. We don’t have major terrorism threats, like our neighbouring countries.

In terms of costs, one week vacationing in Singapore or the Philippines equals two or three weeks here. Our things are rightly priced.

However, I have fears as well. The Zika pandemic and regional or global wars make people think twice about leaving their houses. The global economic crisis will force many to save every dollar instead of spending it on travel here. Let’s hope it does not happen.

Question: What prop is the most precious to you?

Answer: I cherish my crystal ball, which was handed down by my mentor, Dr Chris Rogers, who passed away this year. He taught me a lot of things. He was retired and passed down his knowledge. I also have a very special crystal from Geller. It was part of a bowl of crystals on top of Albert Einstein’s desk.

Question: What has been one of your most awkward moments as a performer?

Answer: In 2011, I thought of doing something interesting, so I ordered something from the US for my show. The courier arrived at the 11th hour, just as I was about to fly to Dubai. I had to go through security screenings at 4am. Out of nowhere, I was escorted by two policemen to a meeting room with my bag. I was shivering. After 30 minutes, I was asked to open a file containing mugshots. Then, they brought out the blue “money printer” I had ordered for my show because they thought I belonged to a syndicate. I had to explain that I was a magician and the money printer was a prop that I used in my shows. They gave me 15 minutes to prove that I was a magician, so at 5am, they got a 20-minute show out of me.

Question: What’s your message to aspiring local artists?

Answer: My message to other artists is to stand up and be counted because we are not inferior to the rest of the world. We stand on the same platform. Given our population, we have produced a lot of world-beaters, such as top badminton players Wong Peng Soon, Datuk Punch Gunalan, the Sidek brothers, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, squash star Datuk Nicol David, artist Datuk Ibrahim Hussein and singer-songwriter Yuna.

The world should watch out for Malaysia because a lot of world-beaters will come from our country. We have produced a few and we can produce a lot more.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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