The Great Bombay Circus

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There were many things that went through my mind when I went to The Great Bombay Circus a week ago. Not something that could be classified under nostalgia but nevertheless a kind of almost childish expectation. Would it be the same things that I saw as a child? All that stayed in my memory as a child was the distinct smell of the animals and the colourful tents. As the series of activities unfolded here, it was a feeling of deja vu – the clowns, the elephants and camels, the dog show, pretty girls doing dangerous stunts, the cycle show and the motorcycle riders.

What lies behind those painted smiles?
The super batsman
The world spins in his hands
Gingerly balancing on a moving base
Basket ball - but of a different kind!
A really fast pyramid formation!
Russian fire dance
Russian fire eater
More stunts with fire
Crossing a fiery hurdle
Stunts on a cycle - This man is of cine fame. Movie - 7am Arivu
Jumping through hoops
Fashion Diva
Juggling act
Our version of Quick gun Murugan!
Smart birds !
Enter the camels!
There were 2 bikers inside this globe !

But unlike the last time – my current visit to the circus left me thinking. For this time I did not see the happily painted faces of the clowns. I was wondering about what lies behind those smiles. I saw not just the sporty elephant or the graceful camel – but saw instead their lack of strength and their worn out visages.

I was not excited about the acrobatics of the young boy who jumped through the hoop, but felt bad that he was on display. Same goes for the dog strutting around with the umbrella.

The bikers in the globe caught not my fancy, but their earnest prayers did. They start each show not knowing if this would be their last.

The stunt master on the cycle and the quick gun Murugan were people who obviously possessed great calibre, but all I saw were middle-aged men trying to earn their daily bread. Call me a cynic if you will, but what struck me was the apathy of the audience through every act. There were no gasps of excitement, no immediate applause and no faces bathed in admiration that one would expect. People continued to mollycoddle their children, focus on taking pictures of themselves, and buying more and more snacks to keep them going through the show.

At the end of the day – these are artistes who possess some kind of great physical and mental skills that we ” normal” people do not. Why not give them the attention and recognition they deserve? What stops us from clapping our hands wholeheartedly and calling for an encore? Why are there cat-calls but no appreciative whistles?

Variete artistes around the world are an appreciated lot. Our artistes are nothing short of that. But we the audience behave like the crowd watching gladiators battle it out for their life in the roman arena. Serious business for them. But Entertainment for us.

I ask of nothing more but that this indifference would cease to exist. And that brings me to the end of my thoughts on “The Great Bombay Circus”

The End !

8 thoughts on “The Great Bombay Circus

    Vimal R Abraham said:
    January 12, 2012 at 5:30 am

    You won’t believe me but I went through the same emotions. Took Rhea to the circus last weekend and came back with similar thoughts in mind. I found it odd – but not surprising – that most people (men) were more excited by the color of the skin & the length of the skirts than what these artists dared to perform….. Couldn’t help but feel bad for these performers. On the other hand the whole show seemed stale – just reminded me of all that I saw the last time I was here – some 20 year back 😉 Wanted to blog about it but haven’t yet found time to pen it down…

    Mathangi Jeypal responded:
    January 12, 2012 at 5:45 am

    I know what you mean… that’s exactly what I meant by cat calls… And despite it being stale, somehow I want to encourage these performers… hence telling everyone to check out the circus! 🙂

    S (@ataraxistix) said:
    January 12, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Poignant and deep, especially liked the empathetic tone of the post. The imagery also captures the plight of the hard-working circus performer. An insightful post!

    Mathangi Jeypal responded:
    January 12, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Thanks gal! 🙂

    Navin Sadarangani said:
    January 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Every generation i guess feels the the current generation is a bit non-appreciative than the last. Though i would like to agree that we were more mannered and the current is losing it’s cultivation, i still think that it’s nothing but a case of the aforementioned.
    On the other aspect, i guess that’s the difference between seeing through the eyes of a child and an adult right 🙂 Circle of life indeed!

    Mathangi Jeypal responded:
    January 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Circle of Life! Nicely put 🙂 … thanks again navin! I feel there is more indifference these days – “cultured, mannered” (I dont know). Unappreciative – yes I’m with you on that one!

      Navin Sadarangani said:
      January 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Hey, why you thanking me. I should be thanking you, a nice blog with pictures supported by some good insight into the reality of life in so many spheres if you come to think of it right.
      I agree with you on the indifference on one side while i have to step back a few steps and think that it might be just ‘our’ perspective. I wonder what would our grand parents tell us if we talk to them about the state of mindset these days. They’d probably be – told you so! Cheers!

    Sukanya Ramanujan said:
    January 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Indian audiences are like that- so self absorbed and if they pay money they think they can do anything- walk in late, chat loudly etc So the artists really get no satisfaction out of performing to the audience.
    On the other hand though the comparison with the roman audiences and gladiators is right on one hand (nothing at stake) they were a lot more participative and appreciative. The Romans loved circus arena spectacles and most generals and emperors vied with each other to throw grand spectacles to please the completely engaged audience

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