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Burra katha, also spelled Burrakatha, is an oral storytelling technique in the Katha tradition, performed in villages of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The troupe consists of one main performer and two co-performers. It is a narrative entertainment that consists of prayers, solo drama, dance, songs, poems and jokes. The topic will be either a Hindu mythological story or a contemporary social issue.
Burra - Katha was developed in Guntur district around 1942 with the aim of propagating political ideas among illiterate masses in villages. The communists with the help of Andhra Praja Natya Mandali founded by Mikkilineni Radhakrishna Murthy in Bezawada spread the message to the masses in the Naizam region during the rebellion against Nizam in the 1940s.
"Burra" is referred to tambura, a musical string instrument with a hollow shell. "Katha" means story.
Burra means a skull in Telugu. The shell resembles a human skull. It is made of baked clay or dried pumpkin, or of brass and copper. The instrument looks very similar to veena and the performer can pull and press strings to get music.
Burrakatha refers to the art throughout Andhra Pradesh, and there are local names in each region.
Burrakatha started as devotional songs of nomadic people and became a popular art form. It is played on radio and TV regularly in Andhra Pradesh. It is a 20th-century name for the theater show known as Jangam Katha. The jangams were wandering minstrels who worshiped and sang of Siva. Two performers participated in these plays: the storyteller and his wife. With societal and cultural changes, the secular aspect was incorporated into this form. The modern form has three performers of any gender.
Popular Hindu artists were Pendyala Venkateswarrao,Sunkara Sri Krishna Madhava Rao, Paruchuri Ramakotayya, Sirivisetti Subbarao, Kosuri Punnayya, Govardhana, Kakumanu Subbarao, Davuluru, Chintalal Suryanarayana, Budagajangala mote papaiah, Budagajangala mote kullayappa, Budagajangala mote ramalingam, etc. Women also formed groups, e.g., Moturi Udayam, Chintala Koteswaramma, Mahankali Lakshmi, Sridevi sisters, etc. Popular non-Hindu artists are Abraham Bhagavatar, Manohara Kavi, Khader Khan Sahib, Shaik Nazar etc.
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