The Waning Appeal of The Big Top in India - CircusTalk

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The Waning Appeal of The Big Top in India

While some circus owners hope that with innovation they’ll be able to survive, others are not so optimistic.

Dancing bears; tigers and lions jumping through flaming hoops; monkeys dressed up in clothes and acting like human beings; acrobats, fire eaters, jugglers, and clowns mingling with them under the ringmaster’s gaze… and the roar of the crowd under the big top. The circus of the past was a different beast before the ban on wild animals being made to perform for entertainment.

Cut to the present. At an open space adjacent to the Kengeri bus terminal in Bengaluru, a big tent has been pitched. Next to it are banners promising unbelievable acts by daring artistes, part of the famous Rambo Circus. Tickets are reasonably priced, starting from ₹80 and going up to ₹250. But it is when one enters the modernised, fireproof and waterproof units held together by ropes and huge poles that reality strikes: Traditional circuses are dying. It is the weekend, and the stands, which can accommodate 1,200 people, are just a fourth full. On weekdays, the numbers are even worse, with just 30 seats getting filled.

Dwindling crowd

Acrobat and trapeze artistes who have replaced performing animals are fighting for attention in an urban India that enjoys television on demand and unlimited Internet access. Circus staff agree that they are faced with dwindling crowd, especially in big cities.

Another famous circus that tours the city at least once a year is the Jumbo Circus. It was in the city in May, but the number of audience was only marginally better.

“In just last 10 years, six to seven small circus companies have wound up. For the bigger ones, business is usually good during festival time and school holidays, but that too only on weekends,” said Raju Isaac, manager of Rambo Circus, who will be leaving the city on Monday.

The circus in India is on a downward spiral, said Sujit Dilip, proprietor of Rambo Circus.

“Unlike in foreign countries, the circus is not considered a culture in India, though it has a history of over 130 years.”


Link to Full Article at The Hindu

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