Documentary Photographer Abhirup Dasgupta is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From the project ‘Tryst with Death’To see Abhirup’s body of work, click on any image.






“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 in spite of all the obstacles is the thrill and the rush they get from performing the act itself and the cheers of the spectators.


Maqbool Ansari from Sisai, rides the motorcycle, a modified Yamaha RX 100, during the show. He says he enjoys the thrill of it while riding at high speeds.


Loknath rushes to the gate minutes after the end of a deathly show to collect the tickets from the spectators of the next show. Many riders have left the business looking for other jobs owning to the meager income from it. As a result they have to double-up as riders as well as ticket collectors and announcers to run the show smoothly.


Maqbool Ansari, a rider, doubles up as an announcer trying to lure the audience to watch the show with his funny and quirky announcements interspersed with old popular Hindi songs. Tickets are priced as low as Rs.30 ($0.42) and entry for kids below 5yrs is free to make it affordable for people from every economic background.


Fuelling the motorcycle minutes before the start of the show. These kids are passionate bikers and wish to become riders someday. They train under their seniors in the morning and perform other duties in the evening during showtime.


Many riders have left the sport to look for better means of livelihood, which 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.





All images and text © Abhirup Dasgupta



See also:

Of Leaves and Lives

By Abhirup Dasgupta





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