Call it a bad case of procrastination on my end, but I guess it's better late than never. Mr Bosco Francis, accomplished magician and star of Eric Khoo's latest movie My Magic, had graciously accepted my request for an interview given his busy schedule. Here it is, one that I've conducted through online email because the fault was mine in not being able to meet up with him in person, but hopefully, I will be able to eventually do so when we converge in Tokyo next month when My Magic screens in competition in the Winds of Asia-Middle East section of the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Q: What was your reaction like when director Eric Khoo approached you and wanted to make a film with you in the starring role?
Bosco Francis (BF): Well I have known Eric for more than 10 years. I use to drink with him on and off over the years. During these sessions he would always tell his friends to look into my eyes. He would say, ëI see something in his eyes.í I always tell him, ëwhat do you see in my eyes. My eyes are my eyes. What is there in my eyes?í He has always mentioned that he wants to do a movie on me. However when he first mooted the idea two years ago, I was elated. Many years ago, I have always thought of doing a movie but not in Singapore. I was thinking of making it in India, where I met with one flimmaker and have met a few actors and actresses who were not that popular yet. So I was thinking at that time that it will nice to make a movie and see yourself on the big screen. Now the dream has been fulfilled beyond my imgination.
Q: You're a seasoned performer. How different is it when performing in front of a live audience, and performing for the camera, not being able to get immediate reaction/feedback from an audience, but having to trust the director and crew that you're on the right track?
BF: Yes, being a seasoned performer is an added advantage in making a movie. However it is totally different from being an actor. I am a performer; I have control over the situation. If my routine does not go down well with the audience, I could go back and redefine it or change it completely. In the case of acting, I am given a script and I have to follow closely to what the script says. What is even more difficult is that I cannot see the expression on myself to that particular environment which the script requires me to do. However Eric is a man of foresight and vision. He has picked me and that in itself shows trust and confidence that deep inside, I will be able to deliver and meet his requirements. Eric did mention about making the movie two years ago but nothing did materialize till the third quarter of last year. It was not an easy decision for Eric to make. I believe that he took the decision against odds; including budget constraints to make the movie. The original plot for the movie was discussed and changed several times over the days that followed. I never knew at any point of time during and after the shooting if I am on the right track. I left it in the good hands of Eric. I only asked him, how well I did, and just a few days prior to the results of the Cannes Film Festival 2008. He replied that it is one of his favorite movies. It was only then, I did get my satisfaction that I wanted to accomplish. It never crossed my mind that the movie would go international and I did not even have any clue about the Cannes Film Festival as I was not connected to the film industry at that time.
Q: I haven't seen the movie, but I heard it contains a fair bit of illusions, some which border on pain. Were the illusions in the movie from your existing repertoire of magic, or did you have to come up with fresh illusions for it?
BF: The movie is about the difficulties the parents go through in life to bring their children up and ensure that they have a bright future. We donít often get to see or visualize the mental stress that the parents go through, however we are able to see the physical stress that the parents go through in bringing up the children. Believe it or not, I did not know the direction where we were going during the first three days of the shoot. It was only after that, I picked up the direction and decided to convert all the mental stress to physical pain so that the audience can see, visualize and associate the amount of suffering I endure to make a reasonable income for my son's future. The illusions in the movie are known as bizarre magic. Most of the illusions were mooted by me. Some of the illusions even though I know they can be done, but I have never attempted them at all. I decided to go ahead with them because I believe and use the power of the mind, which I call ëMind over Matter.í I have trained myself to endure all the pain that you see in the movie. Some of the illusions are in my repertoire and some of them are new ones.
Q: Perhaps for the uninitiated in the world of magic, could you elaborate the concept of "Bizarre Magic" so that we could understand its distinction?
BF: There many kinds of magic, one of which is Bizarre magic. It is a kind of magic that makes people squirm or twitch. In India the magician would sit his grandson on a stool, then he would take a skewer, pull out his grandson's tongue and pierce the skewer right through his tongue, apparently with no harm done to his grandson. He could perform this act several times a day without any harm to his grandson. This is what is called bizarre magic. However I do the same act for real because if you examine my tongue you will see a hole right through. In my case there is damage done but I use mind to control my body. It is called Mind over Matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
Q: Is the movie semi/autobiographical in any way?
BF: Well the story touched partly on my real life story. I have my son who is grown up now and is independent. He hates me for being a cruel father when he was young. Yes I did punish him for his wrong doing. I believe any father would have done that at that time. I also believe that no father would beat their children for no reason. He refused to accept me as the father and did not communicate with me for many years, despite the fact that many persons, including relatives calling upon him to mend the relationship. Eric knowing my life history decided to do the movie. The movie had now brought him back to communicate with me again.
Lean More about The Amazing Bosco here!