Burrakatha is a dance drama that belongs to the ancient minstrels of Andra Pradesh. The devotional songs of the nomadic minstrels found a new expression in the form of dance known as Burrakatha. Later however, this dance drama changed its name into Jagnam Katha. Modern version of this dance drama involves three players of any gender.
Hindu artists like Pendyala Venkateshwara, Paruchuri Ramakotayya, Sirivisetti Subbarao, Kosuri Punnayya, Davuluru, Chintalal Suryanarayana and Kakumanu Subbaraoand Govardhana are few conspicuous artists of this genre. The women artists like Chintala Koteswaramma, Mahankali Lakshmi and Sridevi Sisters also formed groups for the sake of this beautiful dance.
They practiced Burrakatha and also ensured popularized it among ordinary people. The Non Hindu artists like Abraham Bhagavatar, Khader Khan Sahib and Manohara Kavi are few exponents of this dance.
Burra means skull in Telegu and the Tambura that the dancers of Burrakatha uses resembles a skull. It has attached strings and is composed of baked clay and dried pumpkin. Sometimes brass and copper is also used. It looks like Veena, the instrument of music that adorns the Goddess Saraswati, the deity of learning.
The principle story teller plays Tambura and also dances in tune of the music. A metal ring on the right thumb of the principal dancer identifies him from the rest. This is a device that adds more music by constant collision with each other. The co-performers play dakki an earthen drum with two heads. Hasyaka is a joker who stands on the right side and his main function is to crack jokes to entertain the audience.
Rajakiya or the politician stands on the left side and by his experience talks mainly on social issues and politics. The main performer and the co-performers constantly interact with each other and interrupt the former with doubts and admiration. The main performer commences the Burrakatha dance with the following words, "vinara veera kumara veera gadha vinara", to this the co actors sing the following, "tandhana tane tandhana na".