Behind the mask of Delhi’s colourful street clown

Photos, Top Stories
Anjana Premchand

 

The Central Market in Lajpat Nagar is one of the busiest markets in Delhi, however, no matter how crowded the market is, you will always notice a clown. His bright yellow-pink-blue costume catches the eye and his antics demand attention.

Rajeev works outside the shop called Style Girlz. He is a salesman in a clown’s costume. Equipped with a permanent smile and colourful clothes, his job is to get customers to step inside.

Rajeev’s shift is a rigorous nine hours of standing and calling out to people who pass by the shop. He takes only two or three short breaks per shift. If he sits idle, he is sure to get a rebuke from his employer, the manager of the shop. Standing next to the mannequins, his job seems similar to that of the inanimate figures. He calls himself Rajeev Joker.

Rajeev and his cousin Vinod, who stands as Charlie Chaplin outside the neighbouring shop, hunt out empty spaces to smoke and eat. Their moments are like bubbles of peace and quiet in an otherwise busy market. Appearances matter a lot to Rajeev – even after changing into his own clothes, he will stand in front of the mirror combing his hair and checking his face.

Identity is painfully carved. For Rajeev his identity is that of a Joke – someone who must entertain and put on a show. Almost all of the people who pass by him see little more than a costume. This photo essay tries to capture the contradictions that Rajeev lives with and the personalities that he switches between.

 

 

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