“Let your smile change the world, but do not let the world change your smile!”
That morning, Pravin Tulpule was pleasantly surprised to see his photo along with a little boy in the newspaper. But as he further read the news, it saddened him.
His friend had invited him to perform his magic show for cancer-afflicted children in a Mumbai hospital. During the programme, that little boy tagged along with him until the end of the show. The news read that the boy was no more. The boy’s last wish was to see a clown performing magic, and Pravin had fulfilled his desire unaware.
When Pravin was reflecting on that, he realized that his mission in life should be to make the terminally-ill children happy. A sense of joy and happiness would provide them emotional succour and help them forget their pain for some time. It would also cheer up the parents who see their kids battling with pain and death.
That was in 2000. Since then Pravin has made it his mission to bring cheer to terminally-ill children in hospitals. He also gives free magic shows in schools, to vulnerable children living in shelters, orphanages, pediatric wards of hospitals, old-age homes and at events organized by NGOs. His daughters, Shruti and Malhar, often accompany him to lend him support. He has also kicked off a crowdfunding campaign of Rs 10 lakh to sponsor treatment for children with cancer.
Seeing a magic show at the age of 14, Pravin was attracted towards it. He began practising with a set of cards gifted to him. He worked on improving his talent by reading books sold on pavements. His first performance was for his own family members. As more people came to see his magic shows, he charged 25 paisa for each person.
Though Pravin desired to make magic his profession, his brother-in-law inspired him to serve the nation by joining the Indian Navy. After graduating from Parashurambhua College, Pune, he joined the Navy, soon becoming a lieutenant. He even won the President’s Gold Medal.
But the childhood impulse to perform tricks and make others laugh remained with Pravin. When he had hardly three years left to avail his pension, he resigned from the Navy in 2000 after 17 years of meritorious service, to make cancer-afflicted children happy, even though many discouraged him from doing so.
Donning a red nose, colourful clothes, tailcoat attire, top hat, with a string of jokes and magic tricks, taking the name Pintoo, Pravin brings cheer to children suffering from cancer. He makes them laugh, cuts cake with them, distributes toys and creates funny shapes from balloons. Parents request him to show his funny face and actions to their children in the ICU. The child in Pintoo makes the children love him even more. Besides making them laugh and forget their pain, the clown magician leaves them in wonder.
Pravin says, “People who spend time in these places must be going through very painful experiences. However, if I am able to make them forget their pain even for a few minutes, I consider myself successful and fulfilled. The amount of satisfaction I derive is inexplicable. I guess quitting my job was really worth it. Life is too short to brood over or be rude. Let’s be happy and make others happy.”