It’s circus time in the ‘Millennium city’

By Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty

Cuttack: Circus, an age-old art, which is striving hard for its existence in the 21st century where people are mostly inclined to digital medium for amusement, is back in the city to refresh the memories of young and old hearts.
Russian Empire Circus, one of the few surviving circus companies in the country, has pitched its tents at the Bali Yatra ground here in the Silver City to warm the cockles of old hearts as well as to provide an opportunity to young ones for whom circus is a new vista for entertainment.
Though the Central government has put a ban on using wild animals like big cats in the shows, the 50-year old Kolkata-based circus troupe of around 150 members having three Russian gymnasts and six Manipuri artists keep the crowd in a state of daze with their incredible callisthenics and stunts.
Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty

Besides, performance of some animals— five elephants, Pomeranian dogs, cockatoos, macaws and parrots— with their funky tricks add glitz to the show.

“After the ban on the use of wild animals, circus has completely failed to lure the crowd. But we are taking all possible steps to fetch maximum audience. We are appointing overseas gymnasts, preparing the ring with special light and sound effects to get maximum footfall,” said Shanu, manager of the circus troupe.

“Apart from being a form of art, circus is also a means of livelihood of these artists who have been working for generations. The government is yet to announce something good for the dying art. We expect that it should come up with some good scheme for us,” a hopeful Shanu added.

Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty

Asked about the maintenance and care of the animals, the manager, said, “We are taking care of them as if they are our own children.  We have two tuskers and three female elephants. We nearly spend Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per day for their maintenance and food even though we don’t make much profit in the business.”

“Besides, we have to pay huge amount of money to the district administration for land, water, electricity. It will be possible for us to make some profit out of the business if the administration charge less amount from us,” Shanu stated.

Surya Mohanty, coordinator of the circus troupe, said, “Since last 30 years, I have been trying to bring circus troupes to the city every year. The government should take some necessary steps for the survival of the age-old art that is on the verge of extinction.”

Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty

The circus troupe, which will have a month-long stay in the city, presently runs three shows daily in the afternoon. While the first show starts at 1 pm and ends at 3.30 pm, the second and third show starts at 4 pm and ends at 6.30 pm. The third show begins at 7 pm and concludes at 9.30 pm.  The tickets are available at Rs 60, Rs 100, Rs 150 and Rs 200.