Though they earn a pittance, the riders of ‘well of death’ give more importance to people’s response to their daring acts. It is the passion to do something different that brings them into the risky venture
Every time he goes out, he says it could be his last day. One misstep or distraction for a fraction of a second could mean death with capital D. But with a prayer on his lips, Chotu puts his life at stake – night after night. All of 17-years-old, he passes off like any other teenager at ‘Numaish’. But once he enters the ‘well of death’, his daredevilry and stunts leave people awestruck.
The youngest among the nine stunt riders, Chotu rides a Yamaha 100 in a specially erected wooden structure that resembles a well. The acrobatics are something to watch. As spectators watch with bated breath, the nine drive in all directions.
They drive four Maruthi 800 cars and five bikes simultaneously in the small space. “Coordination and uniform speed form the key to a good and safe show,” explains Chotu, who hails from Ranchi in Jharkhand.
It is the passion to do something different that brought them into the risky venture. “But now it is more like a profession for us. Initially we took to it after watching a few shows,” says Musharraf Ansari (32), who drives a Maruthi 800 car.
What they earn for putting their lives on the line is a pittance. Their wages range from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 a month. Some of them get paid on a daily basis too. The tips they get from spectators is the bonus. Yes, they entertain and raise your adrenaline, but their own family members have not witnessed the stunts till date.
“Our village does not play host to such big events. But once my daughters grow up, I will surely make them see me in action,” says Musharraf.
The team has 25 members, including riders, mechanics, cooks and fitters, and travels across the length and breadth of the country throughout the year and gives performances at major events.
“More than the money it is the public response and appreciation that is important for us”, says Feroz Ansari (28), who drives a bike.
Six months of training
The initial training for them starts in a mud pit, and later they are given a chance to try their expertise in a specially put up wooden well-like structure. They undergo rigorous training for six months before taking the daylights out of the spectators.