We are paid just enough for our survival, say circus employees

Art & Culture Bengaluru Business City COVID-19

Ban on animals has reduced people’s interest

Employees of Rambo Circus, which is running in Bengaluru after Covid-induced lockdowns, say their salaries are just enough for them to survive.

Ismail Sheikh, a globe rider at the circus, informed The Observer that a good number of people are coming to watch the shows.

He earns only Rs 18,000 a month. “I get food three times and a place to sleep. But according to the market, the salary is really low. We are just sustaining.”

Ranjit Sada, who plays the part of a joker in the circus, shared: “I have been in the circus business for 22 years. I earn only Rs 15,000, Rs 500 per day, like a labourer. In this inflation, my salary should be around Rs. 30,000.”

A cooking gas cylinder costs Rs 1,400, mustard oil Rs 200 a litre, and masoor dal Rs 100 a kilo, he said. 

Sada, whose family lives in Bihar, continued: “I have  three kids in Bihar, and all go to school. I get to go home after six months. The travelling expenses are Rs 2,000. The expenses to bring sweets and toys for my children add up when I go back home.”

He applied for a handicapped-person certificate but the government did not respond. During the lockdown, his situation was so bad that he used to sell eggs for the survival of his family. 

Russian artistes are paid Rs 5,000 a day, Sada said.

Rashmi Subramanya, a spectator, said: “We have come to the circus after 10 years. In the past two years, my child has not seen any kind of entertainment. I feel the circus we used to watch was more entertaining than what we see now.”

The tickets are expensive. Four people sitting in front seat have to spend Rs 2,000, she complained. In a mall, a person spends less.

Veeresh Yaragattimath, another visitor, said: “I have come to watch the circus after 20 years. I am here because my son has dragged me. Earlier they were having an act of playing with animals. This time, they made a dog juggle for five minutes.

A sign on the circus gate said tickets would have to be purchased for children above the age of three years.

Akbar Kurka, who operates a merry-go-round since 1999, said he earns Rs 15,000 a month. His wife works as a tailor.

People’s interest in circus started declining after animals were banned, he said. 

The Maharashtra government gives circus employees Rs 15,000 a month, but not all employees benefit from the dole.

Harish D.V., who handles public relations at Rambo Circus, shared a press release with The Observer which mentioned that performing artistes were the worst victims of the Covid crisis. Thousands of artistes lost their livelihood. Many companies shut down as they were not able to cope with the Covid-induced financial crisis. Circus companies were no exemption.

Sujit Dilip, owner of the circus, said in the release: “During the difficult Covid times what kept us going was the unwavering support of the circus lovers. When many of our fellow circuses were forced to shut down, it was the trust of people that made us search for innovative ways to reach them. With online circus shows, and special shows to school students via social media platforms like zoom, teams, and YouTube, we held the spirit high hoping the world will be normal again overcoming the pandemic. Now we are back with bang.”


Yukta Mudgal
Trainee Journalist at IIJNM.

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