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The Circus Man Who Knew Too Much

​Keeleri Kunhikannan, known as the father of Indian circus and whose 160th birth anniversary was celebrated in Kerala in 2015, was “teacher” to countless performance artistes. More significantly, he transformed the rigid caste-based space and culture of the martial art of kalaripayattu into one where different castes, communities and even genders mingled.

Folding the Tent: Kerala Circus Academy

Merely three years after it came into being, the Kerala Circus Academy, the first circus academy in the country set up by the government of Kerala, is on the verge of closure due to lack of vision. If the government is serious about reviving this dying entertainment form, then a more concerted effort will have to be made.

Children and the Indian Circus

The Indian circus has been going through a crisis since the environment ministry banned the training and performance of wild animals in 1991; now with the Supreme Court ban on employment of children in circuses it faces a new difficulty. While exploitation, sexual abuse, inadequate healthcare and issues of remuneration need to be addressed, it should also be recognised that children have always figured prominently in the history of physical training and culture in circuses. The present circumstances could bring down the edifice of the 140-year old Indian circus for good.
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