In a slanted wall made of wooden boards, a creak is heard as Yamaha RX100s and Maruti 800s speed round and round to the cheers of the gathered crowd and as the presenter introduces each stuntperson. It sounds like something out of the metropolitan imagination, something straight out of a film. But, in the city of Aligarh, a Numaish, an exhibition has the Maut Ka Kuan that can be translated to the Well Of Death, which is a crowd-puller unlike any other.
The motor stunt sport of Maut ka Kuan has been the highlight of the Guria Maruti Circus at Siliguri, West Bengal for the past 15 years, the stuntpersons gathering to perform annually to an enthusiastic crowd. As the dust blows from the fraction caused between their tires and the wooden wall, one can only imagine what the night ahead holds.
But what motivates these stuntpersons involved in this unique gravity-defying exhibition of talents. For it is a kind of sport (if we may call it) that is a tricky balance between adrenaline and fear and that puts their lives at risk. In an interview with Abhirup Dasgupta for Scroll Magazine, Mohammad Shamil Ansari who performs at the Maut Ka Kuan, tells him “Nahi hamein dar nahi lagta. Waha chalane ke liye jigar chahiye aur balance. Marne ko to hum sadak pe phi mar sakte hai.” (No, I am not afraid. To ride there, you need courage and balance. If I am to die, I may even die while on the street.)
Anuj Khurana, a documenter of Indian street culture, shared the clip of Maut ka Kuan from the Aligarh Numaish with us, he said of the experience, “Maut Ka Kuan, where showmen perform stunts on legendary Yamaha RX100 and Maruti 800 on a 30 ft. high wooden wall, is one of the most thrilling items here. And, this year, I had the honour of experiencing the show from the perspective of the underdogs of this gravity-defying sport!”
While over the years, Maut Ka Kuan is losing its charm to the audience as it cannot compete with the stunts readily accessible at the tap of a 5x5 screen, this motor stunt will find its place in the history of Indian street culture. One that engaged with the audience, tapping into their thrill-seeking personas.
You can watch the video on our Instagram here.
If you enjoyed reading this, we suggest you also read: