Rambo Circus, one of India's oldest circuses, goes online amid the COVID-19 pandemic

IANS
No more yearning for the good old days of the exciting, traditional, family circus outing.

Funnily dressed short or tall, thin or fat clowns, trapeze artistes doing their jaw-dropping acts in mid-air or stunt-men showing off their dare-devil tricks - all a dying breed in India - will now come alive on your living room television sets, in an online 'avatar', thanks to modern tech.

In what is billed as a global first, India's only surviving troupe -- Rambo Circus -- will launch a ticketed show in a digital format which will be shown live at specific hours, for audiences from the friendly neighbourhood to the global arena.

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"We have suffered a lot due to the Covid pandemic lockdown... Of the 24 circus companies in India, 23 have packed up already... We are doing this for the sheer survival of my 100-member circus family," Rambo Circus co-owner Sujit Dilip told IANS.

Hoping to draw "First Blood", much like the character of 'Rambo' enacted by Hollywood megastar Sylvester Stallone, Sujit Dilip said the first specially-designed ticketed performance will go online from September 26 to October 6, and hoped to create a revolution in the world of 'live entertainment' going digital.

It is named "Life Is A Circus" and will be an ode to the great showmanship of mesmerizing acrobatic stunts, trapeze acts and clownish laughter, promising 'clean fun and complete family enjoyment'.

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"People can buy the tickets for the event to be hosted on a virtual platform and watch it from any corner of the world. We hope to raise awareness for the cause and help the Rambo Circus family to emerge stronger from the current difficult times," said co-owner Sumit Dilip.

The brothers pointed out how, in the 1970-1990s, every kid cherished nostalgic memories of visiting a circus, awestruck, watching with wide eyes majestic elephants, lions, tigers, hippos, rhinos, horses, rabbits, pigeons, parrots, et al, obeying the cracking whip of the stern aRing Master', apparently feared and revered by the deadly creatures.

"With isolation the new norm now, we are reinventing the whole circus experience by bringing it online, thanks to the digital revolution, for regaining visibility and dignity to the live art form," said Sujit.

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It would be like a story narrated in the background with the circus tricks, weaving in the history, global travels and current travails of Rambo Circus itself and the never-say-die enthusiasm of the artistes which kept it alive for nearly 30 years, with a grand finale bowing to the Covid Warriors combating the pandemic.

The digital circus show - in collaboration with entities like Saurabh Khurana, Sr. Vice-President of Laqshya Live Experiences, Dinesh Shetty, founder of Production Crew Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and Anand Mahesh Talari, Managing Director, Mavcomm Group - hopes to rekindle the love for circuses and live amusement that, well - rests in peace in India - owing to various problems.

"Despite films, television and online entertainment, live circuses are very much alive in many countries and do very well... I watched a circus in China that had around 150 birds and animals with mind-boggling effects and entertainment... Similar are the ventures in Europe, Australia, Russia and many other countries where people return amazed and get full value for money," said Sujit.

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In India, of the 24 circuses till recently, 23 have packed up -- probably forever -- leaving thousands of artistes and supporting staff rendered jobless, animals had to be rehabilitated, largely due to prevailing laws or hounding by animal activists besides the onslaught of films, television and Internet-based entertainment.

The Dilip brothers are optimistic that the upcoming 10-day special show will help breathe life into the near-extinct Indian circus industry and take the modern generation to the magical era of 'live entertainment' that their parents and grandparents witnessed.
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