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Conventional acrobats find fewer patrons

S. Harpal Singh

This is the last generation of conventional entertainers in our family as all our children go to schools: Amir Mahboob

- PHOTO: G. RAJESHWARA CHARY

Dying profession:An acrobat performing during a show.

ADILABAD: As they belong to the traditional Indian mould, life of the 14 acrobat-gymnasts of the Amir Mahboob family is much less glamorous compared to their feats. Time no more honours the ‘art' of these conventional entertainers hailing from Dargah in Jalna district of Maharashtra because of which the younger generation has opted for a change, who have been forced by life to.

Octogenarian Mahboob laments the present conditions wherein life is no more fulfilling as it was during the hey days of his calling. “My grandfather quit horse and camel trading to adopt the nomadic profession of a ‘pahelwan-akhadebaz' because it was gratifying,” observes the patriarch while tracing his family's history.

“This is the last generation of artists in our family,” he says, pointing towards the performers. “All the 20 children in the family are enrolled in schools in our town,” he adds about the change in the family's calling in the face of dwindling patrons.

The gymnast family is in Adilabad staging 30-minute shows in earthy acrobatics. Being devout Muslims, the gymnasts exhibit difficult feats even while observing the ‘roza' or the Ramzan fasting.

“Allah is our saviour,” says Bato Basheer, a senior performer, exhibiting spirituality while cheering one of his fasting kin who was pulling a lorry with the hair. “Yoga also helps a lot when it comes to bearing the pain,” he points out the practical component of his trade.

A typical capsule of performance has the artists executing broad jumps at an unusual height, breaking a coconut overhead, breaking stone slabs, striking those with the forearm, lifting a couple of plastic chairs with the eyelid, rotating a couple of bicycles tied to the hair on the head, letting a jeep crawl over the midsection of the body etc.

All these items requiring high skill and concentration can suit the taste of students and adults alike.

Basheer concedes the acrobats receive serious injuries at the slightest of mistakes.

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