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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » Pioneer of Indian circus Gemini Sankaran dies at 99 in Kerala

Pioneer of Indian circus Gemini Sankaran dies at 99 in Kerala

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
April 24, 2023 18:07 IST
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Gemini Sankaran, whose Gemini Circus enthralled many generations of Indians with entertainment consisting of trained animal acts and exhibitions of human skill and daring, has died, family sources said on Monday.

IMAGE: Gemini Sankaran. Photograph Courtesy Pinarayi Vijayan

He was 99.

Sankaran had been admitted to a private hospital near Kannur in Kerala for the past few days due to age-related ailments and died on Sunday night, they said.


One of the pioneers of the Indian circus industry, Sankaran, who was born in Kolassery, a village in this north Kerala district in 1924, was trained under noted circus artist Keeleri Kunhikannan for three years.

He later joined the military and retired after Second World War.

Subsequently, Sankaran joined MK Raman's circus school in Chirakkara, and became an aerialist -- someone who walks a tightrope or does trapeze acts -- and gymnast on horizontal bars.

After working with various circus groups across the country, he purchased Vijaya Circus Company in 1951 for Rs 6,000 and rechristened it Gemini Circus.

The company grew by expanding its activities by inducting animals from African countries and recruiting trained artistes.

Many dignitaries, including the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Presidents S Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain, visited his circus.

In 1964, Sankaran led the first Indian circus delegation to an International Circus Festival held in the then Soviet Union.

It was then Prime Minister Nehru who selected Gemini to represent the country in the festival.

Recalling this incident, Sankaran once said his troupe was given a reception at Nehru's official residence in New Delhi before it left for the former Communist nation for their performance.

Later, he started his second company Jumbo Circus.

Condoling the circus legend's demise, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hailed Sankaran for having played a major role in popularising Indian circus globally.

"He played a major role in modernising the Indian circus and included foreign performers and their tricks," Vijayan said.

The chief minister said he had close ties with Sankaran who had a progressive outlook.

Sankaran was also close to various prime ministers, presidents and other prominent personalities.

"His demise is a great loss to the art of circus in the country," Vijayan said.

The pioneering circus entrepreneur was honoured by the Union government with a lifetime achievement award considering his overall contribution to the growth of circus arts in the country.

Sankaran is survived by two sons and a daughter.

His body will be kept at his residence for the public to pay homage and the last rites will be conducted at Payyambalam beach on Tuesday.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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