28 February, 2021

Walking The Tight Rope

Food items being given to the circus stranded in Chennai
Walking The Tight Rope

Circus: along with memories of unalloyed childhood happiness and wonderment, the word conjures up a world of barely-there make-believe, gaudy paint, tinny music, betasselled costumes of trapeze artistes, the sudden burst of wild animal smell—all so tangibly lifelike for its being rough to the touch. Then there are the tear-stained characters smiling under the arclights—so beloved of writers, artists and filmmakers. It has been driven to near-extinction for long, as entertainment moved from the old telly to virtual reality wearables. Now, the few barely surviving has been dealt a fatal blow by the lockdown. Like the 100-year-old Great Bombay Circus now touring Tamil Nadu.

The circus had pitched tent at Mannargudi town of Thiruvarur district since February 27 and had been attracting a lukewarm response except during weekends. Since the March 26 lockdown, its performers have nothing to do. With no revenue, performers and animals faced starvation till locals decided to step in. The state food minister R. Kamaraj led by example—arranging...

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