Sunday, October 23, 2011

Circus performer juggle with life

Concealing their own sufferings behind a benign smile, the circus entertainers continue to keep the audience amused and spell bound by their daredevil acts, show after show. Ironically nobody ever gets to see the other side of their life while they struggle hard to survive in today's competitive era, offering varieties of entertainments.

Especially for these artists life never gets settled down as they are constantly on the move. Moving from place to place once every three months, they leave far from their children and meet once in a year. With no other option, some have left their children with their parents while others have put them in boarding schools, for education purpose.

There are many of them here who are working in circus since their childhood. But due to implementation of Child Labour Act effectively now no artist below the age of 14 are found here. The Children are sent to Circus Academy at Kerala where they get education and physical education which are meant specially for circus.

At present about 14 families are staying in Gemini circus and interesting most of them have married other artist in the same filed. The artists perform daily practice and do exercise in morning from 6 am to 11 am which is compulsory and later they get ready for show. The aged senior artist of circus will be made as trainer.

Staying in a circus especially for girls is a challenging task. They have to maintain their physique in addition to adding glamour to their beauty, and undergoing all sorts of beauty tips from head to toe, to perform on the stage. During their monthly routine most of the girls who are unable to perform take leave for two days while other who can manage go and perform.

The artists are trained to handle any kind of situation and a mechanical support is always provided while performing at heights from the ground or free falling. Even some of them get injured while practicing. Apart from the main artistes, several assistants work in the background commonly known as Ring Boys. The boys are mercurial and once the performance is over they setup the stage for next show without wasting time.

The recent ban on using wild animals like tiger and lion in the circus has slightly affected their income. To sustain interest in the public they are constantly introducing new events like the group performance by the African and Russian artists along with adding several dare devil stunts.

It takes them whole four days either to erect or dismantle the tents. For ladies, bachelors and those with family housing tents are provided separately with all amenities, consisting of a TV with dish connection and individual cots. They organised programmes depending on the upcoming events and season.

Groups are assigned with specific tasks like erecting tents, cooking food, washing and cleaning etc. Four days in a week they are provided with non vegeterain food consisting of fish, egg and chicken while on the rest of the days with only vegetarian food.

Presently there are around 250 artists, 6 elephants, 1 hippopotamus, 2 camels, 2 pelicans, 1 emu, 20 dogs, nine birds. The cost of daily maintenance of circus comes to around Rs 70,000 of which about Rs.15,000 is spent only for maintenance of animals.

Speaking to Express Senior Manager Prabhakar said, 'Circus is a live entertainment and will sustain only if provided with timely improvization and modernization. Novelty should always be maintained. Banning animals affected our business and we brought in Russian and African artistes to compensate.'

Shyamala and Trainer Suresh who were inducted into the circus at a very young age say Circus provides them enjoyment and some times even problems as they stay far from families. Suresh says that earlier it was easy to teach children stunts but no so nowadays.

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