Roma Sur's book "World of Manick Sorcar, Where Art Becomes Magic" was formally launched in the United States, after it's successful launch in India earlier this year. The launch took place at the Event Hall of the prestigious Tattered Cover Book Store at the Historic Lodo of Denver, Colorado. There were about 150 attendants who came from within and outside the State of Colorado.
The program started with Manick Sorcar's "Imagination", a laser show designed specially to welcome incoming guests at the book launch. The show was followed by an introduction from the author, Roma Sur. Explaining her inspiration for the book, she stated:
“From small seeds come very big ideas!” said Professor Sheila Schroeder when I shared the news of my book signing with her. Eight years ago I met Sorcar for the first time when I was producing a student documentary film at the University of Denver. It was for the Introduction to Field Production class, taught by Prof. Schroeder. My subject was Sorcar, known by his nick-name Manick. Manick was well-known for his animation films featured every year on the PBS channels. When I stepped into his magnificent house, designed by him, I was mesmerized by his multi-media artworks ranging from spice art to Styrofoam art and even newspaper clipping portraits of famous personalities. Manick’s house was his tribute to his rich Indian heritage. His studio was packed wall to wall with awards for his animation work. Who is this man, I thought to myself? It turned out that during the day he was the CEO of his engineering firm, Sorcar Engineering and at night he transformed into an artist cum animator. Just like that! Like many others, I asked him how did he find time to do all this? He said, as I have quoted in my preface, 'if you love what you do, you will find time to do it!' At some point during the house tour, which was more like an art gallery tour, an idea started brewing in my head. I told myself that one day I will compile this man’s work and present it on one single platform.
What you see today, is a result of that idea. Even though it was quite a challenge to capture Manick’s world in a two minute documentary, it finally got done. But my research for this book had just begun. Manick’s library of scrapbooks took me all the way back to his childhood days in Bengal, when he was the lighting assistant to his father’s stage shows. His father was none other than the legendary magician PC Sorcar. As I rummaged through his scrapbooks, stories and anecdotes behind his work started emerging. I found this lovely picture of his father during a famous magic show that tells the story of how Manick found his interest in lighting. I decided to include it in the Engineer Chapter of the book. (Reads an excerpt from ‘The Sputnik Illusion’).
As I started writing the Artist Chapter, I thought one of the best ways to describe Manick was one who has the soul of an artist and the mind of an engineer. Manick’s magic lies in taking an ordinary subject like, lentil or spice and turning it into something exquisite, like the image of Hindu Lord Ganesha which you can see the second chapter. He used 17 different spices to create this portrait.
It’s almost impossible to choose a favorite among his artworks, because they are all so rare and one-of-a-kind. But I always find the peanut art really interesting as the story behind it. In Manick’s own words (reads from the section ‘Assorted Art.’)
At a dinner party at my place Manick gifted me a couple of his cartoon books. It was one of the most fun and laughter-filled evenings in my memory. Manick was in his elements, enacting the jokes from his book. I thought these books were one of the most hilarious representations of the idiosyncrasies of an immigrant. I chuckle every time I see the one on page 104. I think it is one that every immigrant can relate to. Trust me you’ll hear that all the time.
My personal favorite is the Chapter on Animator. I love the rich colors of his characters from age old Indian folk tales. I grew up on those and it’s a joy to see them come alive with Manick’s artistic insight and computer wizardry. Deepa and Rupa is one of his landmark films that blended live action with animation and received a lot of recognition. Manick talks about some of the challenges in self-producing a film of such magnitude in the Chapter on Animator.
Over the years I have observed the constant tussle between the artist and the engineer within Manick that finally culminated in his laser shows – a splendid marriage of science and art! Laser gave him the opportunity to harness his skills as a lighting engineer, an artist, a cartoonist and an animator and display them as extravagant stage shows with live action, dazzling light and laser animation. The introduction to this Chapter shows an image that Manick drew on a paper napkin, while at a party. The actual scene from the stage show is shown later in the Chapter. It’s a scene from the Enlightenment of Buddha, which later won him the prestigious ILDA Artistic award. It’s interesting that something that earned him the First Place at the ILDA awards, was actually born on a paper napkin in the middle of a party.
From lighting to laser, it has been an amazing journey for Manick and for me as the author of the book. Laser is truly Manick’s magic wand. It seems the artist is finally at peace. Or is he? Let’s ask the man himself".