Rajesh Mudki, a Mallakhamb champion from Santacruz, is the only Indian in Cirque du Soleil’s new show Bazzar, which will premiere in Mumbai in November.
Rajesh Mudki folds and unfolds his body like a piece of origami. Defying gravity, Mudki, supported only by his feet, extends horizontally like a flag from an eightfoot wooden pole; or bends his body into an L-shape, around the pole; or stands tall, like a ship’s lookout, again supported only by his feet. He even hangs upside down, arms spread out like a soaring eagle.
What Mudki is demonstrating are different Mallakhamb positions. For those who don’t know, Mallakhamb is a mix of wrestling and yoga moves performed on a standing wooden pole, a hanging wooden pole, or on hanging ropes. It requires core strength, flexibility, power, agility, full body co-ordination and creativity. The discipline originated in Maharashtra. The first mention of it dates back to the 12th century, and it was revived in the 19th century by Balambhattadada Deodhar, the teacher of Peshwa Bajirao II. The pole is supposed to represent the opponent. “The exercises we do are completely different from gymnastics on other apparatus because they are wrestling moves,” Mudki says.
When Canadian entertainment company Cirque du Soleil, the world’s largest theatrical producer, premieres its latest creation, Bazzar, in Mumbai in November, Mudki will be performing a four-hand-a-half minute Mallakhamb routine. He is the only Indian in the show and he has waited 12 years for this opportunity.
“You work so hard to achieve your goal and then one day all of a sudden ..,” he says. “Cirque du Soleil is such a big company. For me, I just wanted to work with them and get that experience.”…
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