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Great Bombay Circus to take virtual route, live-stream shows

Rather than shutting down India’s oldest circus company, owners have decided to show live online, acrobatics, juggling acts, and a few acts by animals.

Great Bombay Circus to take virtual route, live-stream shows
Performances by the Great Bombay Circus artistes, (inset) Sanjeev


The Grand Bombay Circus was founded in 1920 and performed mainly in Punjab and Sindh. In 1947, it merged with two other companies to become the Great Bombay Circus. Since then, it has performed and entertained crowds across India and abroad. Celebrating its centenary this year, The Great Bombay Circus had its last show in Chennai in February. Currently, stationed at Mannargudi, all the circus shows have been cancelled because of COVID. The company that’s staring at the bleak future is planning to take the virtual route like any other entertainment medium.

KM Sanjeev, the current owner, says that until September all the shows have been put on hold because of restrictions. “In this 100-year journey of the circus company, I think this is the fifth or sixth time, shows have been cancelled for a couple of months. Now, everything has become virtual ­­— right from stand-up acts to magic shows, many artistes have been trying to do online shows. We also have to change accordingly; otherwise, it is tough to survive. As the first step, we have made some CDs of our live acts that will be sold in the market soon. We have shot the a­cts earlier and kept it ready for archives. Since now is the apt time, we thought of releasing them,” says Sanjeev.

Apart from this, the organisers are also planning to stream the circus shows online. “We are just learning about the possibilities of going virtual. It will be tough to arrange the entire show because of continuity problems. But we can stream acrobatics, juggling acts, and a few acts by animals for 45 minutes. It will be a different experience for our artistes as well. That said, the thrill of watching a circus live won’t be there if we move to online. But tough times call for tough measures, right?” he says with a smile.

Sanjeev reminisces that the last show in Chennai was a huge success. “People say circus has no future and it will die soon. But I beg to differ. We did a good business for a month and a half in Chennai. Circus still has its charm. But, in the post-COVID future, I am not sure what will happen to the circus companies. We are planning to keep the company run for a few more years so that we can continue entertaining people. Also, it depends on the response we get from our online streaming. If the responses are great, the shows will continue with more power,” he asserts.

In the condition of zero revenue for months ahead, the company has now resorted to Milaap to pay its staff their salaries.

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