ROMIL DEPALA is far from the stereotypical image of a regular college student.
By day the 17-year-old is a hardworking, A-grade pupil studying to get into university, but by night he devotes himself to the skilful art of magic – mesmerising celebrities and VIP guests at corporate and private functions with his jaw-dropping tricks.
The fresh-faced teenager from north London has only been practising magic for less than three years but has already performed to some of the world’s most popular sports personalities, including cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne and Nasser Hussein, and Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake.
Last month Depala performed in front of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg at a Liberal Democrats Christmas reception in London. Currently Depala, one of just a few young British Asians on the circuit, is preparing for the annual Magic Circle Young Magician of the Year competition which takes place next month.
He told Eastern Eye: “I used to be good at cricket and played a fair amount. After I injured my back I needed something to do and just picked up a deck of cards.
“I had a natural knack with them and realised that you could do so much with a deck of cards that people aren’t aware of.”
What started out as a hobby for the magician has now led to him appearing at high-profile venues such as Wimbledon, Lord’s and The Savoy in front of a multitude of celebrities and VIPs. He now practises up to four hours a day to perfect his skills.
“The practising won’t be things like shuffling cards; it will be more about thinking of new ideas and practising new ways to amaze people,” he said.
“I also don’t look at other magicians for inspirations as such because otherwise you would end up copying what they do. You want to try to be unique and looking at good presenters at work inspires me more.
“I really enjoy engaging with people, talking to them and making them feel part of the performance.”
Depala’s best and first trick was turning a deck of cards into a solid glass block. He can also take your picked card and make it pop out of a random deck of cards by itself.
“The glass block trick amazed a lot of people. I’ve practised it so much. I’ve learnt to implement new presentation styles so people get amazed by it even more now,” he said.
“That same glass block has been with me everywhere. It’s like a lucky charm.”
Depala fulfilled his dream gig when he wowed the Indian cricket team last year.
“I performed inside (captain) MS Dhoni’s room with many of the team present,” he explained. “As soon as they saw one trick, they immediately said: ‘This kid is awesome’. Since then, I have also performed at other events that the team were attending.
“I was also invited to perform at Yuvraj Singh’s cancer charity ball in July.”
Depala, whose role models include illusionists’ Derren Brown and David Copperfield, is hoping to study experimental psychology in university and wants to incorporate psychology with magic.
“I want to be able to manipulate how people are thinking in order to amaze them. It’s something I want to do in the future, but rather than do magic for performing, I want to do it in a way where people take away something positive and learn from it.”
For more information, go to http://www.magicromil.com