The Great Bombay Circus in Jaipur

What does blockbusters films like Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), Insaaniyat (1974), Muder in Circus (1971) have in common?

Well, you should be credited as a big Bollywood fan if you jumped and said Sujit Kumar, however if you guessed that all these films are based on circus you are right too. Circus has been a great part of people’s life before the television and internet age. Not that we have forgotten them entirely, Bollywood hasn’t for sure as it released a critically acclaimed film Dekh Indian Circus (2011), but it has certainly lost the old glory along with international artists and variety of animals.

Nevertheless, Jaipur still plays a big role in keeping this form of entertainment alive as they welcomed the The Great Bombay Circus with open arms. According to a local daily

People are flocking from all corners of the country to the Bhawani Niketan Ground at Sikar road to witness the breathtaking live acrobatic acts at the Great Bombay Circus running here. Now a dying form of entertainment, the circus runs a full house, especially on weekends and holidays.

The circus venue is giving direct competition to the multiplexes situated near it by managing to sell 80% of the tickets on Wednesday on the occasion of Jamanmashtmi.

The Great Bombay Circus at Jaipur 2013

A visit to the circus was a trip of nostalgia for us. It reminded us of the experience of watching live and raw entertainment. With gigs like Chinese Roller Act, Russian Palotna Acrobatics, American Limping Board, Vertical Swinging Acrobat and occasional slapstick from the jokers in the house, the entire two and a half hours show is designed to keep the audience’s attention captivated. And it did exactly that. There are many nail biting stunts on thin ropes, with sharp knifes and with motor bikes, performed with very little margin of error, that keeps people at the edge of their seats. Children amongst the audience will enjoy it the most.

The Great Bombay Circus is stationed in Jaipur for about 45 days (from Aug 02-Sept 15) with three shows in a day. A local police constable at the venue informed us that on a daily bases 4 pm show is a most preferred by Jaipurites and there is no match to Sunday in terms of number of people who visit the circus. While talking to one of the organisers, it was brought to our notice that the planning and efforts to move the troop of more than 300 people, 4 elephants, 6 camels and other animals like horse, parrot and dog is just one small part of the whole business. Once the location is decided, enormous amount of energy goes into getting six to eight No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the city’s take care departments like electricity, sound, fire, water, police and forest. The operating costs involved in running the show are continuously rising as well. Apart from rents and maintenance cost, the show requires Rs. 5000 worth of daily electricity. We noticed a tractor unloading grass in the backyard. When asked the driver said that he is coming from Ajitnagar, village near Jaipur, and is assigned with the daily duty of bringing food for the animals. He was paid Rs. 3750 daily.

The circus that has been entertaining people since 1920 is still alive and buzzing with live orchestra, talented new artists from across the globe and new and innovative gigs (even without animals). The thrill is still unparallel, mainly because the performances are still very much real. We see real people taking real risks to their life and push the limit every time they come out on stage. So, no matter how many movies Bollywood come out with about circus, it will never be able to deliver the experience of actually visiting a real circus.

Everyone must visit the show to meet the child (the real you) in them once again.


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