Urban Legend: P. James

By Shalini Shah


You must have spotted him somewhere. His is, perhaps, one of the most visible names in the city. Along entire stretches of road he has been making his presence felt. If you haven’t seen ‘P. JAMES MAGIC SHOW. PH: 9841072571’ inscribed in black ink on a wall somewhere, you’re probably blind.

Armed with a can of what looks like indelible paint, P. James a.k.a V. Kennedy has been trying to promote himself and an art no one now seems interested in. P. James because his grand-dad, a street magician, was called so.

The 36-year-old has been a magician since the past 21 years. After working as lecturer at a Saidapet college for nine years, James decided to quit teaching and pursue magic full-time.

Ask him about his legendary graffiti and he replies, “I stopped it three months ago after the Commissioner of Police asked me to.”

Apparently, it was from the Brooke Bond painted wagons that James got his inspiration. And the black paint that weathers all rain and shine is a mixture of black oxide and Fevicol, what he calls the “cheapest and best way.”

He recalls, “After 9.30 p.m., I would get on my bicycle and paint the walls myself. On a couple of occasions I’ve also been caught by policemen.”

James followed the routine for almost 14 years. Don’t people get angry? “If anyone complains, I clean up the walls,” he adds.

Things, however, aren’t all rosy. “It’s hard to get shows nowadays because people prefer watching them on television. I’ll get back to lecturing if an offer comes,” says James, who is an M.A. M.Phil. M.Ed. This father of four supplements the income from magic shows by tutoring class IX and X students on weekends.

James carried on the legacy of his grandfather and father. But he would like it to end there. “Never come to my profession. You end up sacrificing a lot,’’ is his advice to his children.


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