Folk Theatre Forms of Andhra Pradesh
My-Telugu.Com: Andhra Pradesh - Tolu Bommalata
My-Telugu.Com: Andhra Pradesh - Veedhi Natakam
My-Telugu.Com: Andhra Pradesh - Chiratala Ramayanam
Folk Theatre in Andhra is very rich and varied. It must have had its beginnings
in a single performer's narrative-singing, as in Yakshaganam. It was soon
followed by his role-playing, enacting different roles, without any change in
make-up and costume. This tradition of signing-enacting branched off into two
divisions: one, taking another charactar to dramatise the story; became the
Kalapam and the other, taking more characters, remained to be called Yakshaganam
- the former delineating a mood and so resorted to an indepth presentation of
rasa; and the latter taking more characters, called itself Yakshagana Natakam,
with more pronounced dramatic qualities. Yakshaganam, at this stage, is a
musical play with an emphasis on story-telling, using for its songs desi-metres.
The same text, very often, was used even for the shadow puppet play.
We cannot definitely say whether the human being or the doll or tho puppet made
by him is the earlier performer. But the puppet plays, using carved and
chiselled human figures and using several poetic texts including those of
Yakshaganams, were vey soon popular. Since the performers usually belonged to a
single family they soon became more popular.
During the Bhakti movement, Yakshaganam became a very significant medium for the
spreading of the 'Has of the God. The main performing place was the temple.
Since the stay was about the God, these performances were uniformly called
Bhagavathams. In course of time, however, even the Bhagavathams parted ways in
their perforrnative qualities and attained an individuality of their own. The
Toorpu Bhagavatham and Chindu Bhagavatham are cases in point: While the former
strictly is a Kalapam and the latter a Yakshaganam, both of them are tagged
together and are called 'Bhagavathams'.
Veedhi Natakam, though erroneously cealled a Bhagavatham in some parts of Andhra
(only to denote the story therein), it is a very vibrant form of great dramatic
and less narrative-descriptive qualities. Also called Bayalata,
it has remained an important theatrical form in the state, and in some cases
whole villages are dedicated to their performances. There are also some marginal
theatrical forms, torms which have deviated either in form or content, from a
main-stream folk theatrical form and stayed on without any change for centuries.
Pagati Veshalu, Chiratala Ramayanam and Valakam are such marginal forms, which
are characteristic of having certain dramatic and theatrical qualities but
cannot be treated as full-fledged dramatic performances.