The Adman who sold his Ferrari

Rishi Majumder meets Deepak Rao who mingles motivational corporate sessions with telepathic and telekinetic wizardry

Photographer: Nilesh Wairkar

Deepak Rao
Deepak Rao (DR): Are you thinking about it right now? I want you to focus.
Writer of this article (WOTA): I’m thinking about it. DR: Wait. (smiles) I’m getting it. I think I’ve got it. DR: Is it, oh my god. The word in your mind is… conversation?
WOTA: Yes.
DR then hands us a spoon fresh out of a tea cup. DR: Check it carefully… also check my hands. So you don’t accuse me of using magnetism or some such trick later on.
WOTA: Checked.
DR places the spoon on the floor and stares intensely, pointing from a distance with his fingers. In a few moments the spoon does a giant leap, landing some feet away…
Deepak Rao calls his ‘mind show’ “mission impossible”. It also comprises him bending metal and levitating objects (telekinesis) and reading minds to determine details like the time of your birth (ESP) – “all through my mind. No ‘magic’, no tricks.” While “mission impossible” is performed for over 125 blue chip companies (Hindustan Lever, Larsen & Toubro, Pepsi, British Airways… the list goes on) on the first day of a two day programme, the second day entails Rao’s “mission possible”. This could be a lecture on techniques for better communication or organisation. Or it could be a self structured finishing school, or a segment called ‘understanding superstitions’ that propels corporate minds to think differently, hence innovatively. “I might be providing the same advice as you or anyone else,” Rao explains. “But after the previous day’s show, people are far more responsive. They listen to me and act on the advice.”
Rao was inducted into ESP and telekinesis at the age of 11 by his uncle. He then continued to develop these as hobbies, right through running a successful advertising agency servicing some of India’s biggest companies. “Then came the recession of 2001,” he remembers. With his busi
ness hit as many others were during the period, Rao re-invented himself as ‘corporate edu-tainer’. The mind shows, so far conducted only occasionally for advertising clients and friends, were used as a peg with which he could hook an audience rendering them receptive enough to imbibe his corporate training sessions, each differently designed to fit diverse corporate criteria.
Rao is labeled today as India’s Uri Geller (world celebrity and psychic performer), and has begun to provoke some of the skepticism that Geller has received a barrage of – arguing it is tricks and not mind power that works these wonders. But two distinctions remain. Rao corrects anyone referring to his ‘powers’, to say they are “abilities” he has “developed”. He also encourages this ability among his show audiences to the extent of making them collectively focus on a plastic bottle to topple it, or individually attempt to levitate a pen. Geller on the other hand, credits his ‘powers’ to a mystical light he encountered when he was four. Also, Rao avoids public shows, performing only for corporates or institutions like the IIT or Young Entrepreneur’s Organisation, whereas Geller has used his televised performances to create a celebritydom that has fans writing in asking him to cure their relative’s cancer, or politicians appointing him mediator on the Israel-Palestine talks. “I don’t want to become a Godman,” Rao clarifies as his reasons for avoiding such publicity. “These abilities have limitations. I can’t levitate or bend more than a spoon. I can’t use ESP unless someone is sending me a concentrated thought.” Instead, unlike so many miracle working preachers from every age and religion, Rao insists his mind show and his corporate training are separate concepts: “I’m an ‘edutainer’ because I mix education and entertainment.” Also brewing in the cauldron, are the most controversial ingredients of an ancient science, today called parapsychology, with the less controversial components of a motivational management lesson.

This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India:


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