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Jugglers & jokers still draw laughs

- Ban on animals & dwindling interest deal death blow to circus

The charm of circus has certainly waned, but still draws a few curious visitors.

The ongoing Empire circus in Jamshedpur offers parents the chance to take their little ones to experience one of the dying forms of entertainment. The 40-day show commenced on July 27 at Circus Maidan in Golmuri.

A team of 150 artistes deliver three shows a day. Each show is two-and-a-half hours long with diverse acts.

Artistes oerform impressive balancing and high-flying stunts, breathtaking acrobatics and juggling acts with equal ease. Some special performances include the traffic jam act, ring dance, boneless act and many involving elephants and dogs.

But still, despite their best efforts, Empire Circus is finding hard to survive. They even fail to pay salaries to the performers on time.

“There is no audience now. Even 20 per cent occupancy is considered to be good. We are left with only four elephants and some dogs. There are no permanent performers. The performer who is presenting here may not be available for the next city we move to,” said J. Raj, the manager of the Calcutta-based circus group.

Though tickets are moderately priced at Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 150, there is scarce footfall at 1pm and 7pm shows. But, the 4pm show does manage to attract the residents.

“Though it is a loss-making venture, the circus runs because of children who force their parents to bring them here. They love the jugglers and jokers,” the manager said.

While the Animal Welfare Board of India has banned the use of elephants and other animals for entertainment, the manager said they were not aware of the decision.

“We have not got any directive. We stopped using lions and tigers. If we stop using elephants, who will come to see circus? Acrobatics can be seen on the Internet too,” said Raj, adding that circus is almost dead in the metros. “We thrive on tier II and III cities.”