New Delhi: India's leading circus troupes are feeling the pinch like never before. Covid situation, since March, has put most of them on the verge of extinction.
Traveling troupes performing to sparse audience, pitching camps in towns and cities, were struggling, when suddenly the situation has gone from bad to worse.
As they were trying to shore up a waning art, Covid-19 came along, and subsequent lockdown proved double whammy, shutting down camps.
Situation at circuses are so bad that many operators are struggling to recharge their phones, according to a report.
Everything from glitter of light and colour to slapstick clowns to tamed wild animals to dangerous stunts of trapeze artists has come a grinding halt.
You no more likely to see the daring-do of motorcyclists riding in the well of death. Everything about circus is likely to be summed up into a chapter in history.
Anil Kumar, manager of Asiad Circus, told IANS, "Our circus has been closed since March 13. Some of the people working have gone back to their homes while some are still living in the camp but they are working as daily wage labourers. They sleep here after coming back from their work."
"The situation was already bad for us, but the pandemic spread has made it worst. Earlier, we hardly managed to earn bread and butter but now we don't even have money to recharge our phones," he said.
There used to be around 150-200 circuses in the country. Following covid restrictions,they are on the verge of closure.
Unable to pay bills, around 10 to 15 circus have already closed down, remaining ones are struggling, circus operators say.
According to Kumar, circus is no longer a profitable business and if the government does not pay attention, soon it will just be on papers.
Multimedia has also affected the circus business, as children have enough options for entertainment.
Rambo Circus, one of India's most popular and oldest circus, has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has started digital shows to support artists through the pandemic.
Rajesh Shah, a resident of Boroda, runs a consultancy which helps the circus companies. Shah said, "Out of 20 big circus across the country, only 10 big are existing now. All the artists have gone back to their hometowns because of Covid."
"It will be very difficult to get these artists back as they are very hard working and they will find some other work for themselves."
The Great Bombay Circus, began in Mumbai in 1920, completed 100 years this year. Now the band is in the red facing crisis.
Sanjeev, the owner of the Great Bombay Circus, said, "150 members of the circus have gone back to their homes because of no work in the past seven years. Everyday cost of running a circus is around Rs 1 lakh. A lot of circus companies have closed down in the last two years. We even had to borrow money from relatives due to financial problems."
"There is an association, the Indian Circus Federation, but it is also not active now because there are no active members. More circus companies will close down in the future," he said.
"The government will have to help our industry financially. Nobody thought that this disease will bother for so long. While showing online circus is not feasible for a long time, because a whole family will watch the circus on one ticket which will result in huge loss for us in the future," Sanjeev added.
The report from IANS has been edited