Friday, January 7, 2011

Ah, The Circus of Life !

For those who have spent their childhood in Calcutta – you will remember visiting Circus was an annual ritual every year. Those were the days of multiple circus brands held across different parts of city.  It was an annual fest that entertained children and adults alike. Over the years, modern entertainment swept across the city. First came the multiplexes, then came the malls, then came the water park, the entertainment parks so on and so forth. Also the PETA folks kicked up a storm apropos the ill treatment of animals by the Circus management - an incendiary issue. 

The urbane audience has taken the leap of modernity and Circus is now a fading art. However some still hold this art dear to their heart. The winter of year 2010 marked the return of Olympic ‘African’ Circus to Park Circus, which got it’s name from the days when it became a focal point during the winter. It became home to circus companies and kids all over the city flock to the maidan to watch circus. The colorful  circus tents, the hawkers vending variety of finger foods is something all the kids desired.

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Some would recall ‘Mera Naam Joker’, that told the story of Mary and Raju the joker. This film was released in 1970, even before I was born. Those were the hey days of this art ! The elegance and poise of the Trapeze artists are not to be seen.

I cannot remember the ticket prices from decades back, but now they are available in denominations of  Rs. 30,60,100 and 150. I am fortunate to be able to afford the 150 tickets, which quite literally gave me a ring side view.

The show starts off with acrobatics and gradually makes it way upwards via jugglers, dog tricks, African gymnasts, animal parade, cockatoo tricks, cricket playing elephants, the valley of death (motorbike riders in a metallic globe, the jokers with their little acts so on and so forth. A couple of things did catch my attention. I found them quite impressive. One was the juggling and balancing act by a particular juggler defined epitome of hand-eye coordination. The second was a ‘Puja’ performed by elephants, where they worshipped an idol of Lord Ganesha complete with flowers and garlanding the elephant God, sprinkling of holy water and even breaking a coconut. The elephants for a change looked healthy and well fed. I cannot but say that it is indeed a little scary, as these giant creatures parade the circus ring. A stray thought crosses my mind, what if they just go berserk or decide to get a little temperamental The only ‘trick’ that made my jaws drop, was an ‘item number’ where scantily clad girls danced to the tune of the raunchy ‘Munni Badnam Hui’, while one of the girls kept spitting fire (the-fire-spitting-trick). Sad to see the pop culture affect good ‘clean’ (PETA folks will debate this) entertainment. And oh yes, NO Lion tricks anymore !

Old fashioned it may be, but still good unadulterated fun for people across all ages. All those who have given it a miss lately and have memories of circus visits holding the hand of your parents. Do the same for your kids, hold their hands, take them back to the future !

Enjoy some of the pictures we clicked while enjoying the Circus of Life !

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Besides the pictures, I would like to a short video. Hope you like it and relive some memories !

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