“Nahi hamein dar nahi lagta. Waha chalane ke liye jigar chahiye aur balance. Marne ko to hum sadak pe phi mar sakte hai (No I am not afraid. To be able to ride there you need courage and balance. If I am to die I may even die while on the street )”, says a confident young Md Shamil Ansari, manager and rider at the Guria Maruti Circus’ Well of Death, as he relaxes in a makeshift tent behind the silodrome before the start of the evening show.
The Well of Death, known in India as Maut ka Kuan has been the centre of attraction of Indian fairs for many decades. Guria Maruti Circus is one of the oldest companies running the show night after night with riders and stuntmen showing their jaw-dropping skills as they speed around the almost-vertical walls of the barrel-shaped wooden cylinder.
Once a very popular sport, it is now almost on the verge of dying. People have moved on to cinema and the internet to quench their thirst for breathtaking stunts leaving the galleries in these silodromes almost empty and the riders and stuntmen struggling to make ends meet. The only thing that drives them inspite of all the obstacles is the thrill and the rush they get from performing the act itself and the cheers of the spectators.
Many riders have left the sport to look for better means of livelihood, which is turn is hard to find in the current economic scenario of the country. However, many still continue as it is their only passion in life. The wooden boards of the walls have cracked up in most places but it doesn’t stop them from gearing up for the next show to appease the crowd with impossible stunts.
I am an independent documentary photographer based out of the small industrial town of Jamshedpur in India. I have been working in the development sector for the past three years with Tata Steel Foundation, ACC Trust and various other NGOs in the fields of education, livelihood, health with a special emphasis on tribal ways of living. My objective with photography is to explore the human condition around us by recording and portraying the immediate and momentary impulse I feel as a result of the situations that unfold around me.