Audiences watching Rambo Circus in the city are in for a surprise as they are given an unusual welcome at the start of the show by a clown in an oversized costume with that typical bulbous red nose and face paint.
“I am one among you,” he says in Malayalam, and introduces himself as Biju Pushkaran, a native of Perunguzhi at Chirayinkeezhu in Thiruvananthapuram district, the only Malayalee in the team. As the show progresses with breathtaking acts by artistes and laughter created by clowns, he builds a strong connection with viewers, cracking jokes in Malayalam.
He proudly tells the audience that his son is a film editor and has left for Australia a day before, and that his daughter is studying medicine. However, he used to hide the fact that he was a circus clown from his children, fearing the stigma associated with being a “Komali (joker)”. But in 2011, when his son was 17 years old, he mustered the courage to tell them about his profession. Being a single parent, he asked his brother-in-law to bring his son to Pune to watch a show.
“After the show, people were taking photos with me. Without knowing the joker was his father, my son also came and asked for a photograph. I asked him in Malayalam whether he liked his father’s performance. He was stunned. ”Biju PushkaranSenior clown at the Rambo Circus
“My brother-in-law had not told him about the intention behind the trip. It was a night show. After the show, people were taking photos with me. Without knowing the joker was his father, my son also came and asked for a photograph. I asked him in Malayalam whether he liked his father’s performance. He was stunned. After getting over that pleasant shock, he said he was proud of me. He sent that photo to my daughter also,” recalls Biju.
Biju, hailing from a poor family, left Kerala at the age of eight after getting beaten up by his father, who was a cycle ‘yajnam’ (cycle circus) artiste, for bringing leftover food from a marriage for his mother who was a coir worker. “I didn’t know my father would come home that day. My act really hurt him,” he says.
Biju went to Bombay and happened to meet a few Keralites who were working in Apollo Circus there and joined them. His rendezvous with circus began after watching Russian clowns performing in shows. He was very impressed by their ability to make around 4,000 people laugh at the same time. He learned the tricks of the trade from a Russian clown. After being rejected by many circus companies for being ‘dark skinned’, he finally joined the Rambo Circus. Now, after 24 years, Biju is a world-famous clown who has performed across the globe, including the famous Monte Carlo Circus Festival. “Circus gave me everything, including the money for my children’s education and home in Kerala,” he adds. Biju’s life story is the inspiration behind the award-winning short film, ‘Painted’, featuring Ashish Vidyarthi in the lead role.
Performing in Kochi is like homecoming for Biju. He had his ‘Onasadhya’ with his team members at the venue of the circus show, which ends on Thursday. “Though I couldn’t join my family members for this Onam, I could celebrate it with you. What else do I need,” he asks the audience amid thunderous applause.
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