10 July 2019

An Officer with a Magic Touch

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By Hadi Hafidz (Photos: Shahid Afsar)



Modern-day magicians such as David Blaine and Criss Angel skyrocketed to superstardom not only through mind-boggling magic performances on stage, but also through the simple magic tricks that they perform up close to passers-by on the street. As simple as it may seem, we hardly realise that it takes an enormous amount of effort and dedication to perfect the simplest sleight of hand. Police Life caught up with the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) very own magician, Special Constable (SC) Shahid Afsar, as we bring you into his world of magic.


As a child, SC Shahid was always fascinated by street magic and often found himself glued to such TV programmes. He was especially intrigued by how these tricks seemingly defied logic. One moment, the magician would have a ball in his hand and ‘abracadabra!’, a split second later, five balls would magically appear in the same hand!


Even though SC Shahid had always been curious to learn a trick or two, it was his family friend who eventually triggered SC Shahid to pick up magic tricks when the former was unwilling to share how it was done. Impressed by the execution of a simple trick, SC Shahid was determined to get to the bottom of it. And that is when he embarked on his learning journey – through watching videos of magic tricks unveiled.


“When I first found out how one of the magic tricks was executed, I became excited and I wanted to try it out and show it to my family and friends. But once I began following the steps, I realised how difficult it was to execute it swiftly so that the audience does not notice your sleight of hand,” SC Shahid continued.


After a few weeks of sheer hard practice, SC Shahid decided to perform a couple of tricks for his family. Unfortunately, his ‘hidden moves’ during the performance were uncovered by his family. Despite the disappointment, SC Shahid did not give up and continued practising to perfect his moves.


Patience is Key


Determined to succeed, SC Shahid would return home after school, finish his homework and spend the next few hours refining his magic tricks. More often than not, perfecting these tricks would leave him at the brink of frustration. From dropping objects to messing up the entire magic trick sequence, these challenges at times made SC Shahid doubt his ability to perform the tricks. But with sheer patience and perseverance, he finally managed to overcome all odds to perfect his skills. After months of hard work, SC Shahid succeeded in putting up a flawless magic performance in front of his family. At the end of a simple card trick, he finally got the response that every magician would want to hear from their audience: “How did you do it?”.


“With that kind of reaction, you know that your movements were flawless and what was presented to them was beyond logic. As a magician, that is how we want to impact the audience,” SC Shahid exclaimed.


Challenges Worth Overcoming


For three years, SC Shahid continued practising the basic sleights and tricks. As he became more confident of his moves, he began approaching random strangers to perform magic tricks on the streets. However, doing so was not easy as he was often greeted by rejections.


“I remembered approaching a family who was walking along the pavement and asked them for a few minutes to perform my magic tricks. Unfortunately, I was met with rejection. While such moments can be demoralising, it does make me stronger and more determined to continue my pursuit,” shared SC Shahid.


Another challenge that SC Shahid faces when performing street magic is having to overcome sceptical audience who are always on the lookout for mistakes. Standing at such close proximity, it would have been easy to spot a mistake if SC Shahid did not execute his magic moves well. Once, an audience pointed out a card in one of SC Shahid’s pockets that was not properly hidden. Maintaining his composure, he casually whipped out the card as if it was part of the performance and quickly swapped it with another card so that it went unnoticed. With his wits and creativity, he successfully turned the tables and left the audience applauding, wanting more.


A Crowd of 200


After gaining more experience and confidence from his street performances, SC Shahid started participating in his school’s talent competitions and other community events. This caught the attention of one of his teachers in Junior College who then approached him and asked if he was interested to conduct a street magic performance for about 200 people. Although the thought of performing for a large audience for the first time made him nervous, SC Shahid was thrilled to be given this opportunity.


“When I was waiting to perform, I could feel my heart racing. It was my first time performing at a public event. At some point, I was so nervous that I actually doubted my ability to pull it off. However, once I started performing, I was overcome by the excitement and forgot my worries. The audience’s ovation at the end of the performance made me feel appreciated and accomplished. I actually walked out of my comfort zone,” SC Shahid quipped.


Currently serving his National Service with the SPF as a staff assistant in Jurong Division, SC Shahid has been performing at his division’s events such as their 2018 Christmas Celebration, Jurong Division’s Appreciation Dinner and Deployment Appreciation Lunch held earlier this year.


“Performing at Police events is really special to me as I get to show the other side of me to my colleagues. It is also very heartening when fellow officers approach me and ask me the golden question – How did you do it?” SC Shahid said.


SC Shahid’s passion for the art of magic continues to burn strong as he strives to improve his skills. With his unyielding dedication, SC Shahid’s goal is to be able to perform at a Las Vegas theatre someday. We wish SC Shahid the best of luck for his pursuit in magic!

Last Updated on 10 July 2019