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It’s already difficult to be an artist in Pakistan but when you’re attempting an ambiguous art form such as Mentalism, it’s even worse. There is little awareness about the form, no platforms that could help prospective mentalists and very little appreciation. Such was the life of Shaheer Khan, Pakistan’s first ever mentalist, before he finally got recognition for his work. His recently concluded shows have proven his rising popularity as Pakistan’s newest puzzle, one that has left many people scratching their heads.

If one has ever been to Khan’s show, they’ll know what we’re talking about. He has been able to guess Rameez Raja’s ATM pin, Waseem Akram’s favourite cricketer and the name of Harsha Bhogle’s first childhood crush. Bhogle was so astonished by Khan’s ability, he shared his views on Khan’s craft: “It was such an unusual name for Pakistan that when he said the name Latika out loud, I knew that there’s something here.”


Shaheer Khan

Shaheer Khan was able to read the name of Harsha Bhogle’s first childhood crush. “It was such an unusual name for Pakistan that when he said the name Latika out loud, I knew that there’s something here.”


Many people claim that the only way to explain his abilities is by the use of the supernatural. So we jokingly asked him. “That is not the case. There is no jadoo involved. I have just been extremely intuitive ever since I was a kid,” replied Khan very matter-of-factly when we got in touch with him over the phone. It seems as though he has heard this question many times before. “I also liked performing magic tricks. But as I grew up, I decided that I wanted to do something unique and authentic, so I started mind reading. It’s 100 per cent real for my audience. There are no tricks or illusions. It happens in the minds of the people in the audience.”

One wonders how this profession or ability is learnt. Did Khan take some sort of training? “I’m self taught. Whatever you see me doing has been learnt by me and I’ve done that by talking to people a lot. For example, if I were to tell you to think of a number from one to 10, most people would think of three. I just do this every day so I’ve become good at knowing what people may or may not be thinking. I’m also really good at analyzing people by just looking at them.”

But Khan has been able to guess people’s Facebook passwords and their ATM pins. That isn’t the kind of information one can simply guess by looking at another person. “That is where my intuition comes in. I’ve practiced my intuition so much now that I have become fairly accurate with reading people’s minds. Now when I go out, I’ll look at a guy and think, hmmm… his girlfriend’s name must be XYZ. And I’m almost always right.”

Khan clearly has an advantage over other people; having access to a lot of information must help in his daily life. “It helps with my family and my brothers. I can get my brothers to cook and clean for me,” he shared wittily. “It’s helped a lot with my love life though. I caught two ex girls friends who were cheating on me by reading their minds.”

How did Khan end up doing mind reading as a profession though? “I was studying communication and design from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. But I dropped out in my second year because I knew I would never practice this degree if I got it. After dropping out, I wrote a 90-minute show called The Other Side. Then I met some really supportive people who called themselves Fun Ka Kaam. It’s a collective that promotes Pakistani art to the rest of the world.  They loved my preview and helped me in promoting my work. Now I’m doing shows all over Pakistan thanks to them.”

Mentalism is new in Pakistan, which is why not many people understand it yet.  However, Khan hopes to condition the Pakistani audience so that they understand the profession a little better. “It’s a new craft so people are not used to it. Right now, the audience watches my performances as theatrical plays where they come in and simply watch. But my shows are hugely based on my audience interaction. Whatever they’re thinking about or feeling drives the outcome of the show. Hopefully, people will eventually understand this concept and when they come to watch my shows, they will bring in a lot of interesting thoughts for me to read.”