The actual story of the Corona is definitely not in the stock market and to some, not in the corporate earnings.
The real story is of people suffering, losing jobs, shutting down of age-old shops, people moving out of cities permanently, children out-of-school, people losing their homes as they can no longer afford the rent or EMI. Those on the ground say that they now know more people without jobs or lower salaries than people with jobs or promotions and salary hikes.
Those in the hotel industry are probably the biggest hit as most hotels are literally living their lives like a dew drop – another gust of wind and it will fall to the ground.
But even in this mound of grief and suffering, there are great stories of survival, where despite the excruciating circumstances, some businesses have thrived. They lived simply because they kept their costs low and adapted to the changed scenario pretty quickly.
And one such story of inspiration is that of the Rambo Circus. Of the 150-odd circuses which were in operation before the pandemic, today, only a handful have survived and Rambo was the quickest to stand back on its feet.
When the pandemic struck, the circus had pitched tent at Airoli, New Mumbai. The 100-odd artists thought that the lockdown will come to an end soon but no one was prepared for long haul. Then the owner of the circus, Sujith Dilip tested positive and from there, it was downhill all along. They depended on the local authorities to provide them with food and water ensuring no one starved though they had no money to send to their families back home. And then the cyclone, Nisarga struck. Worried that their tent would blow off, they got it down, which really busted the already low morale of the artists. They shifted to a neighbouring school, eking a living, managing to just about survive.
But then things looked up once Sujith Dilip recovered and came back in action. He first listed the circus on the crowd funding platform, Ketto. He managed to raise Rs.12 lakh, which the crew used to get their act back in form and send some money back home.
What really saved it from death was BookMyShow, the online booking and now entertainment platform. They signed up for a virtual performance – ‘Life is a Circus’ and their first act was on 25th Sept. Rambo is in fact the first circus in the world to ever go virtual. The artists found it odd at first to have no roaring, clapping and laughing audiences but they soon adjusted to it. After the first show, which was a sell-out, they performed regularly and all their shows were sold out.
When it wrapped up its season around the Diwali weekend in November, ‘Life Is A Circus’ logged 34 shows with a viewership of 60,000-plus, raising almost Rs.21 lakh for Rambo in ticketing revenues and online donations. By the sheer number of tickets sold, Rambo has become the highest-selling virtual show on the ticketing platform.
Today, they are back to ‘real’ or ‘live’ shows while following the pandemic protocols. And while live shows make a comeback, their virtual shows continue and they hope that even after things do get back to 100% normalcy, their digital performances will now become a new way of life.
It is stories like these that teach us the art of survival – it sounds cliched, but it is indeed survival of the fittest. It is because Rambo adapted quickly while the team rallied together, with the owner not abandoning them that they bounced back to life.
As the renowned Japanese author Haruku Murakami rightly said, “ Once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.”