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No Animals, Just Stunts: How I’m Keeping the Circus Alive Through The Pandemic

No Animals, Just Stunts: How I’m Keeping the Circus Alive Through The Pandemic

One of India’s oldest circuses, Rambo circus is going to stream performances online for the first time in India.

“When I joined the circus as a clown 20 years ago, showmanship was at its peak and thousands would line up to see us dancers, stuntmen, clowns, acrobats, and trapeze artists.

But things changed. And somewhere, between the advent of satellite TV and televisions sets to streaming platforms, our profession died a slow death. The working conditions went from bad to worse. Children have kicked me in my stomach, slapped me and audiences have made faces that scream boredom.

I remember how circus artists would take pride and look forward to making their children carry forward the legacy but now, it’s the opposite. In fact, I too, ensured that my children were educated in good schools, and encouraged to join other professions. 

But amidst all the problems, I have never let my smile and enthusiasm disappear. The joy of putting up a funny act and making someone’s day keeps me going and as a unit, we always manage to come up with survival strategies. 

But then the lockdown happened, and everything changed. In the last six months, we have not done a single show and have been endlessly waiting for the pandemic to subside so that we can earn again.

The situation is so bad that a majority of circus companies have pulled down the curtains and artists have returned to their homes. Many of our shows have been cancelled and our investments (some of which are worth lakhs) have gone down the drain. 

Source: Ashish Vidyarthi

So, when Sujit Dilip, the owner of Rambo Circus, discussed the idea of bringing a digital revolution to the circus with me in April, it felt like a tiny ray of hope in these dark times. Maybe, we could revive India’s oldest form of entertainment, using the very tool (OTT platforms) that had played a role in our downfall.

Initially, I had my apprehensions. I wondered if my performance would be affected without whistles and claps of a live audience but then it was my last shot at saving what I love doing the most – making people laugh.

I started practising my act ten days prior to the show (which was shot last month) and for the first time, I was experiencing excitement and nervousness together. When the camera started rolling, I got shivers down my spine.

We are also entertainers, and even though we rarely, if ever, receive awards for what we do, we continue to put in our best efforts. Our livelihood completely depends on the audience and today we need you more than ever. Whatever we earn through this programme, will be used to feed our families. We have put in everything for this show but only with your help can we revive the circus.” 

– Biju Nair, Principal Clown at Rambo Circus

What’s Does This Circus Have in Store for You?

IT professional Aditya Shah from Bengaluru and Suganthan Asokan, a digital marketing professional from Mumbai are the brains behind the concept. 

Aditya’s tryst with circus dates back to 80 years ago when his grandfather was a prominent circus organiser. So, he wanted to save the most cherished memory of his childhood when he learnt about the plight. He approached Suganthan and the duo started developing the idea. 

“The first-ever digital circus of India is going to be the highlight of every Indian kid’s childhood. The digital circus idea is to draw people towards the age-old tradition and heritage. The USP of the circus is going to be daring trapeze acts to mesmerizing acrobatic stunts, it will be a fun and laughter-filled show with a high emotional quotient,” Aditya tells The Better India

Suganthan says that there are so many unexplored stories of how the circuses gave a stiff competition to the movie industry in its heyday and hence it is important to remind everyone of its value. “Re-packaging of the circus is required for the newer generation through the use of digital mediums- which includes virtual events, content partnerships on OTT etc..” 

With 30 artists and a professional camera crew, the programme was filmed over two days in Airoli with all safety precautions. 

Called ‘Life is A Circus’, the show promises ‘clean fun and complete family enjoyment’. It will go live on 25 September onwards. 

“We have tried to accommodate the best acts within the 1-hour duration of the show. The performances will be hosted by renowned television and film actor. Vipul Roy. With talented people working both in front of the camera and behind the scenes on the project we hope that this show will be a catalyst for better times especially for the artists; it is a genuine attempt by everyone involved to help them overcome the social and economic challenges,” adds Suganthan.

Would you like to play a part in keeping the circus alive? Book your tickets here

Get in touch with Rambo Circus here

Edited by Gayatri Mishra

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