April 16, 2021 10:23:52 pm
Rambo Circus always had a special menu to mark World Circus Day — a feast of performances for audiences and a grand meal for the artistes. This year, however, the Pune-based circus group will go online to start a fundraiser to sustain itself for the next three months. For artistes associated with colourful tents and high-voltage shows, this will be the darkest World Circus Day.
“We are 42 people of whom 31 are artistes and the rest support staff. We need Rs 3 lakh to keep us going for a month without shows so we are seeking Rs 10 lakh. This is the World Circus Day like no other. Rambo Circus got support from Ketto last year, which helped our artistes get some monetary support, food and medicine through fundraising. Last year, we also had help from local people but now, everybody is facing financial challenges. It is very difficult to survive,” says Sujit Dilip, owner of the circus.
The troupe was in Mumbai’s Airoli in March 2020 when the lockdown brought down the curtain on their shows. They fought back by creating an online show with Laqshaya live and BookMyShow and, as soon as performances were allowed, by holding live performances in Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre and at their base in Airoli. While the digital works were popular, the live events usually drew 50-60 people. “There was not much footfall as people were afraid of stepping outside. Prithvi Theatre waived our rent and other expenses but the important thing is that artistes were happy to be performing,” says Sujit.
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Since March 17, the circus has been closed due to the Covid-19 surge. The troupe shifted to Pune’s Mundhwa and has put up on land belonging to Sandeepdada Kodre. “The situation is serious across the country but in Pune at least we are at home and will get help,” says Sujit. The mood is low as performers have no work. Sujit, too, is used to travelling for half the year, performing all the time and planning or strategising new acts. With only one month left in the peak season, the future seems uncertain. On World Circus Day, the group will try to reach out to their followers on social media with messages on masking and sanitising, even if one has been vaccinated, as the best way to return to normalcy. “We are also available if the government or private organisations want help running public kitchens to distribute food to out-of-work migrants or any other suitable work,” says Sujit.
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