It's back, with no bang

THOSE WERE the days. No television to surf, no Internet to browse and no video games to play. Entertainment then had a different meaning and it was more than a solitary affair. People would come in droves, all with a singular purpose... fun and frolic. Remember the street corners bustling with crowds, all eager to watch a play or that hugely popular tents pitched for circus.

Circus, ah! Funny jokers, beautiful trapeze artistes, dazzling acrobats, daring ring masters and those obedient animals. Missing that tent full of fun? Come on, drive down to Kukatpally Housing Board colony, which has come alive with The Great Royal Circus.

It's back, with no bang

The 99-year-old circus has pitched tents here with about 300 staff and a horde of animals, including elephants, horses, parrots and dogs. All trained to offer non-stop fun and enjoyment for a 150-minute show. But all is not well with circus, widely recognised as one of the oldest entertainment industries. Growing expenses, dwindling audiences and inability to counter the competition unleashed by modern entertainment vehicles such as television is clearly killing the circus industry. "We are in the last lap. Don't know how long we can drag on,'' sighs Basha of the circus company.

M. Pavithran, also of Great Royal, blames the restrictions imposed on the use of big animals such as tigers and lions for the sorry state of circus industry. "Audience loves to watch the taming of ferocious animals by daredevil ring masters. Sadly, we cannot present those feats now,'' he regrets. The circus staff admits that theirs is a sinking industry. "With more than 50 per cent of our audiences gone, we are barely managing to survive,'' says Basha.

It's back, with no bang

As patronage declines, many have pulled down their tents leaving talented circus artistes on the streets. Pavithran joins: "Circus is an art form which failed to get recognised and appreciated.''

But, braving all odds, the show must go on. At least as long as it can. The trapeze girls are putting colours, clowns are busy giving final touches to their buffoonery, a cute puppy is ready with an umbrella and the white chimp, a proud possession of Great Royal, is already on the bicycle. The curtain is about to go up. Are you ready for the circus?

By Lalith Singh T.

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