Source: Vivek Trivedi, DNA
One of the traditional forms of entertainment, circus, is fighting for survival in India. A handful of enthusiasts are still keeping this ancient mode of entertainment alive but they too fear that this could vanish in coming few years.
Disenchantment of the audience coupled with increasing input cost has posed existential crisis before circus managers. This is evident in the fact that till a couple of decades ago, the country had around 150 such troupes and the number has shrunk to a dozen at present.
In such a grim scenario, the Royal Circus, said to be the oldest group of the country, is receiving warm response from the audience in Indore. "We are witnessing half filled seats in our shows, which is not bad given the prevailing trend," claimed manager of the troupe M Prabhakar. He declined to offer exact figure of visitors. The 105-year-old Maharashtra-based group, The Great Royal Circus, has set up tent at the Malwa Mill ground in the city. It is the only Indian circus which has toured the globe extensively for around 21 years and presented shows in 24 countries including USA, South Africa, Gulf countries etc.
This travelling company of performers includes clowns, acrobats, trapeze acts, musicians, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt artists. The trained artists are from Manipur and Bengal, who pack in a load of surprises for the audiences with their exciting stunts and agile performances.
Prabhakar admitted that banning animals like tigers, leopards, bears from circuses has reduced charm of this art form . But, he claimed, audience still offers warm response if troupe has quality performers.
Talking about problems of such troupes, the manager said that spiralling cost of water, power, transportation etc are hassling the troupes. "High cost of transportation also makes it difficult these days to visit foreign countries," lamented Prabhakar. "With no support from government, I fear that we would not be able to sustain for long. This traditional entertainment could vanish within 5-6 years," rued Prabhakar.