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Jumbo excitement

It's thrills galore at the Jumbo Russian Circus that's on in the city



THE KIDS LOVED THE ELEPHANTS At the Jumbo Russian Circus PHOTO: K. PICHUMANI

Unlike the comfortable cinema halls, circuses almost seem like an assault on the senses. The noise, colourful banners, the rush of people and the smell of wet earth... all these made the Jumbo Russian Circus look like a festival venue. Red-carpeted entrances led to the `big top' inside and two warning bells after, the show was ready to roll. And roll it did.

A clever juggler walked jauntily and waved his hat before doing a juggling act to open the show.

After a miniature trapeze act where man and rope seemed one, both swinging to impossible heights, a large revolving table was wheeled in. As the audience wondered what was in store, in came a performer in blue doing nearly impossible yogic asanas. Only slightly more than a child, she balanced a glass of purple liquid on her head as she performed her contortions without spilling a drop.

The audience, watching open mouthed, were shaken out of their trance as deafening roars from an iron circular ball at the far end of the ring filled the air.

Breathtaking stunts

What followed was a ride to beat any of the stuff offered at the amusement parks as three daredevil riders rode their bikes on circular routes in perfect coordination. Overwrought nerves were soothed as a Russian performer in a shimmering body suit performed some Olympic worthy gymnastics to soulful tunes. A session of pure tomfoolery with a chair followed. Three boys vied for the same seat, only to be unceremoniously thrown out by the others. What marked this scene was the pure grace with which the boys fell off the chair.

Not to be outdone, a group of girls was on next. They thrilled the audience with their skilled gym antics. Their colourful costumes, wide smiles and confident stance belied the years of struggle, dedicated workouts and childhood lost to perfect their act.

The trapeze act that followed saw the artiste suspended high above with the viewers craning their necks so as not to miss even a single moment of the show. He stood head down on a rope, arms outstretched to keep his balance. The live band kept the tempo up, playing its versions of popular ditties.

The clowns drove in rather glamorously in a multi-coloured ramshackle car that systematically fell to pieces much to the mirth of the audience. Their amusing even slightly ribald comedy drew loud guffaws.

Well coordinated

The show was intelligently synchronised. Just when human antics seemed to get a tad tedious, the animal acts were a refreshing change. The arc lights can inspire anybody and the camels, breaking out of their usual cud chewing avatars, were transformed into performing stars, craning their necks as if checking to see which sections of the audience were not clapping hard enough.

The dog show, with a Dalmatian walking briskly on its hind legs, had the young members of the audience nearly yelling themselves hoarse, shouting, "Go, doggy, go." When the hippo sleekly strode in, the children nearly rushed to the ring for a closer look.

Hippo, the obvious veteran of many shows, was unfazed and played shamelessly to the gallery, preening and showing off huge teeth in enormous yawns.

After the man on a bicycle one tenth his size rode out of the ring, in pranced the horses with a glamorous rider who performed surprising tricks on the moving animals' backs.

Being the Jumbo Circus, elephants couldn't be far behind. One waltzed in to play an exciting game of cricket that had the ball going into the audience.

Viewers vied with one another to throw it back. Soon it was time to pray as a smaller elephant, reverentially ringing the bell over a Lingam and spraying it with water with a benign expression, had the spectators in splits.

For those who thought only the `uncool' types throng a circus should have checked out the number of digicams that whirred non-stop to record the exciting moments.

The Jumbo Russian Circus is on at the MUC Grounds for 45 days. Tickets can be got at the venue and cost Rs. 100, Rs. 70 and Rs. 40.

PAROMITA PAIN

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