Small world under the big top

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Small world under the big top

     

Many children in urban cities today have never been to the circus; have never experienced the shivering excitement of the performing animals, the thrill of watching the flying trapeze artists, the slapstick humour of the clowns and the commanding presence of the ringmaster first hand.

Yes, ‘Gemini’, the oldest Indian circus, is in town and under the big top, hundreds of talented artists entertain the crowds who have taken time out of their daily schedules to watch them do their death defying stunts live. It is a world away from video games and simulated action figures fleshed out with talent, sweat and tears of real people with no retakes or pretty air brushed images.

The show begins on time and back-to-back the artists make their grand appearances through the satin curtained entrance. The flying trapeze artists are the opening act and as they shimmy up the rope ladders with studied grace, the crowd cranes its neck to peer up at them through the safety nets. Gasps of awe and bursts of applause punctuate the performance as the men and women swing from trapeze with impeccable timing and co-ordination. The subsequent acts follow without a break. Jugglers, clowns, motorcycle racers in their ‘globe of death’, balancing acts, clowns et al. Animals too play their part in keeping the crowd entertained. Dogs play a football match, elephants balance their mighty bulk on small three-legged stools, play doctor-patient, gently cradle a glamourous beauty in their trunks or stoically allow a rambunctious group of acrobats to pile up on their backs and necks.

Exotic African artists perform tricks with flaming torches and Russian acrobats put up a lively show of dancing and flipping somersaults.

“It has been years since I came to the circus. I was curious to see how it has changed since I remember it, with the ban on certain categories of animals like tigers, leopards, lions, bears and monkeys. Of course, children today are spoilt for choices in entertainment and it’s not easy to lure them to a two-hour show,” says Sudeep Ramakrishna, who used to be a circus regular when he was growing up in Bangalore often taking in several shows in the course of the season.

Some people felt the absence of the charismatic ringmaster with his skillfully bullwhip cracking and the hilarious act where the clowns drove a car that had all the parts fall off including the wheels.  Catch their performance in the City at Palace Grounds while you can.

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