Aamir, Hrithik, Akshay: Bollywood at the circus!
Considering how visually spectacular the circus is -- and how well suited this makes it, in turn, to set a Bollywood dance number -- it’s surprising how little our films make use of the circus.
That is all set to change in Dhoom 3, of course.
With that film set to release, here’s a look at films that spent some time in the big tent.
Katrina Kaif plays a circus acrobat in Vijay Krishna Acharya’s film, but don’t be fooled -- as Aamir Khan has warned us, this isn’t the kind of Indian circus we’re used to.
This one’s going to be spectacular.
Click Next to see more.
Image: Katrina Kaif and Aamir Khan in Dhoom 3
Mera Naam Joker
Longer than any circus performance ever, this Raj Kapoor epic about channelled Pagliacci in telling the sad, sad story of a clown, played by Kapoor himself.
It’s a weepie, but no film has treated a clown as wonderfully since.
Image: Raj Kapoor in Mera Naam Joker
Haathi Mere Saathi
A massive blockbuster from the 1970s, Haathi Mere Saathi -- directed by Ma Thirumugham and written by Salim-Javed -- was a kid-favourite for generations, owing to A-list superstar Rajesh Khanna gamely having fun with a children’s film.
More a zoo than a circus, strictly speaking, but this had to make the list.
Image: Rajesh Khanna in Haathi Mere Saathi
Directed by the one and only Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, this unlikely hit saw the ever-experimental Kamal Haasan in a double-role as a mechanic called Raja and a dwarf called Appu.
Appu works at a circus, and while the film contains many hi-jinks, it turns into a revenge drama somewhere down the line.
Still, it remains unforgettable.
Image: Kamal Haasan in Appu Raja
Luck By Chance
While Zoya Akhtar’s refreshing directorial debut might not have featured an actual circus -- the song Baawre is set on the sets of a circus in the film within the film -- it looks beautiful, and should be commended for bringing real circus performers.
Over 60 performers from Pune’s Rambo Circus came in to support Farhan Akhtar and Hrithik Roshan in the song.
Image: Hrithik Roshan in Luck By Chance
In the first Krrish film, directed by Rakesh Roshan, there is a dance in a circus to the song Dil Na Diya.
The circus link is strong since it is only because of a fire here that Hrithik Roshan’s character decides to pick up a broken mask and turn into Krrish to save the day.
Image: Hrithik Roshan in Krrish
Phir Hera Pheri
In the sequel to the Priyadarshan hit -- directed not by Priyadarshan but by Neeraj Vora -- everything climactically heads towards a circus, and various elements of slapstick are tied around clown costumes and the trapeze and -- wait for it -- a whimsical gorilla.
Image: Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal and Suneil Shetty in Phir Hera Pheri
Dekh Indian Circus
This critically acclaimed Mangesh Hadawale film, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannishtha Chatterjee, hasn’t been released yet but has received significant acclaim on the festival circuit.
In the film, a nearby circus acts as an escapist fantasy for the Rajasthani villagers.
Image: A scene from Dekh Indian Circus
Murder in Circus
This weird 1971 B-movie was apparently ripped off from the German Krimi “Circus Of Fear/Psycho Circus” and told the story of a trapeze artist (Jaymala) who turns detective to solve a string of murders taking place in a circus.
Sujit Kumar plays a lion-tamer who helps her out
Image: Movie poster of Murder in Circus
Long before Shah Rukh Khan scored big with Chennai Express, Kamal Haasan floundered pretty badly with this Singeetham Srinivas Rao film that saw him as a motorcycle stunt-rider in the Well Of Death.
The film tried too many things, but couldn’t manage any of them very well.
Image: Kamal Haasan in Mumbai Express