The artistes are not complaining. Biju Pushkaran, 51, a clown with the circus since its inception, said that things became bad for them during the lockdown. “Many artistes were planning to return to their hometowns and villages but then about two months ago we got this proposal from Laqshya Live Experiences, an event management firm, and Production Crew Entertainment Pvt Ltd. It was godsend. We were so happy to have got a chance to work again.”
Usually, a circus takes three to four days to set up — erecting the tent and arena with labour of around 100 people. “For this online project, just 24 of us erected the tent and set up the arena in a day’s time. Such was our enthusiasm,” said Pushkaran. The artistes were trained for the show for 15 days and the shooting finished in another 2-3 days. “Every time I came out to perform I missed the audience and its applause and cheering. But the director asked me to visualise the audience and it helped,” said Pushkaran.
For the online format, artistes got a shorter time to showcase their talent
Manoj Singh, a trapeze artist, said that during live circus he performs for 15 minutes but for the online avatar his set was reduced to about 5-6 minutes. “But this is also good, I have no regrets,” said Singh.
Sujit Dilip, founder of Rambo circus, said that it was a challenge to fit a 2.5-hour-long circus performance into one hour. “Artistes got just 4-5 minutes to showcase their talent and it’s a new kind of experience for them. With isolation becoming the new norm, we’re trying to reinvent the circus experience by going online,” said Dilip.
Covid has made it difficult for circuses and street performances to survive. A survey by Circostrada Network in Europe found that 94% events have been cancelled and on average per performance 14 jobs are affected. Cirque du Soleil group in Canada filed for bankruptcy protection in July. It had to lay off 95% of its workforce.
But the show must go on, said Dinesh Shetty, founder, Production Crew Entertainment Pvt Ltd. “We are excited to take the age-old circus experience online with the artists coming into your homes and making you laugh,” he said.