Russian Circus Artists
Well, do you remember the last time you had watched a Circus? I am sure majority of us will not be able to remember. Some of us will try to make guesses like it was 10 years back or may be 15 years back. This would be the case with lots of people who are above the age of 25 years as of now. The reason is very clear; entertainment has changed a lot in last 15 years with advent of satellite channels and penetration of new age communication medium like internet.
My reason for choosing a topic like Circus is not to debate on the fall and rise of this beautiful acrobatic entertainment, but would like to share my experience reloaded.
Its 7 pm and I am eagerly awaiting my friend to go and watch the Rambo Circus today. We get to the gate of the Circus and buy the highest priced ticket of Rs.120 which we can very happily afford today. People say quite true that a movie is best watched from last row, whereas Circus is best watched from the first row.
I get an immediate feeling of nostalgia as soon as I enter the Circus arena with a tall conical tent at the center place and lots of swings attached at the top of the tent for the show by trapezium artists. We both discuss, on the animals we would get to see though knowing that we would not get to see Tiger here, as all the endangered species have been banned from being used in the Circus. After 5 minutes of patient wait, the show finally takes off with the introduction of Circus artists, who seem to be mostly from North East part of India and Nepal and few artists from the former Soviet Union.
While watching a host of different shows, I realize that there are few things about Circus in India which has not changed at all, like the starting show of stunt on swings by trapezium artists, cycling on one wheel, dog show, parrot show and the jokers. They are still the same, though I definitely feel that the quality of comedy by jokers has declined heavily. The great filmmaker Raj Kapoor had idolized the image of joker as the most essential part of a Circus, but today they seemed to more of nuisance and just a fill up gap between the shows. This was a pure disappointment for both of us.
There were definitely some new shows which made our spend quite worth like the dance show by beautiful Uzbek artist, where she dances while lying down with 4 trays of burning candles over her body. Another show which was really exciting was a show by a Naga lady in which she throws the cups and plates with her feet to land exactly on her head and she is able to do so while balancing 3-4 pairs of cups and plates. There were regular shows like the fire show by the guys and a show by elephant where the animal uses his trunk to pull up the stunts and a lady rides on him like the good old Maharani days.
Another good item to be discussed is the acrobatic dance mix with Salsa steps on a song “Tere Haath mein mera haath ho,” from the movie “Fanaa” by a couple. The song was well rehearsed and showed the same passion that is seen in Reality shows like Dance India Dance, Aaja nach le etc. There is no doubt that India is full of such talents, and it’s just that lots of artists don’t get the right platform to showcase their talents.
I wanted to go to the back of the circus stage, where the artists wait for their turn and have a chat with them to understand on how they live, how do they perceive life, do they really love their job, what brought them to work in the circus, how much money they make, what support they get once their career is over in circus etc. etc., but that didn’t really worked out. Also, I miss that I was not able to take the snaps of the Circus as photography of any sort was prohibited inside the circus area. I am putting some photographs which I was able to gather from other websites. I also tried to do some secondary research on the Circus and am come out with some information which gives an idea about their life in the Circus. The Indian Circus artists on an average earn Rs.5000-6000 per month whereas a foreign artiste earns around Rs.1000/day. This earning is very low compared to what the people in other entertainment sector receive, but still you will always see the smile on the artists face and their dedication to their work. They live in tents for the period till the time Circus is being played in the city and the living conditions are clean and have washing and cooking facilities. I also heard that many young artists marry within themselves as its hard to find a match outside, quoted by Prabha, an artist from Nepal. The foreign artists are mostly from former Soviet Union countries that come here on short term work visa or on a cultural exchange. They seem to have helped in reviving the Circus business in India as they add distinct flavor to acrobatic performances. Also, now since there is a ban on the use of wild animals in the show, they have to depend major on the human performances and the variety they would offer.
The show has ended and we both are about to leave the arena, but yes with lots of beautiful memories reloaded and a burning desire to learn about them , sit with them and bring insightful stories on them to this world. Well, my answer to the question in the beginning is now very different, “the last time when I watched Circus was around a week back” and my suggestion to my friends and readers is to go and watch this traditional method of entertainment whenever they get an opportunity and help in reviving our very old Circus.
At Last, the show must go on…..
You Tube Videos links of Rambo Circus-