We live Raj Kapoor’s iconic film Mera Naam Joker every day and those famous lines Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan, Iske Siva Jaana Kahan literally epitomise our lives in the circus. We leave our families behind and the people we live, work and travel with become our family.
We are there for each other through good times and bad, help each other through personal crises like the death of a loved one back home and nurse each other through injury and illness,” says Ramparvesh Das, the vertically challenged professional clown from West Bengal who is part of the Gemini travelling circus now in the City. His buddy Ranga is from Gujarat and the two are inseparable.
“My mother was normal in height but my dad was a ‘little person’, a farmer who worked the plough. He was tough and hardworking eking out a living for myself and my six siblings some of whom were tall like my mom and others who were height challenged like my dad,” explains Ranga.
“Being the only midget in the family I knew that the circus was the right place for me and I had a great teacher named Sagar who also trained me to do my own make-up, come up with my own routines and costumes. I get very funky and creative with my make-up every day trying different expressions,” adds Ramparvesh. Another member of their team P K Vijayan was born in the circus as both his parents were performers.
“I used to be a versatile performer doing high risk stunts like fire jumping, knife throwing and flying clown routines on the trapeze. As I got older I limited myself to clowning,” he says. Life under the big top is not a bed of roses although living conditions are comfortable. There is plenty to eat and drink and they get a fair deal from their employers. “We don’t encourage our kids to join the circus. We want them to get an education and a stable job in the City. I wish the government could give us some security by way of a pension,” he says wistfully.
The high point of their day is the laughter that they generate through their slapstick routines. “We use a prop made from two pieces of flexible wood which when struck together cause a slapping sound exaggerating the effect of a comedic blow. It never fails to entertain the crowd. We also pop in and out of several acts lending some comic relief right through the programme. After all no circus, however, high-tech would be complete without a clown,” they laugh in unison.