Performing artistes turn daily wage labourers in Andhra Pradesh due to COVID-19

They hope normalcy returns at the earliest so they can go back to their vocation.

Published: 18th September 2020 08:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th September 2020 08:32 AM   |  A+A-

Kalla Ratna awardee Kondalpali Veerabhadraiah Bhagavat selss masks due to no stage plays during covid pandemic times in Kadapa on Thursday. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

KADAPA: The Performing Artistes Colony came up in the ’80s in Parvathi Nagar of Mydukur town, 35 km from the district headquarters of Kadapa, with help from acclaimed TV and radio artiste Kondapalli Veerabhadraih Bhagavatar, and for nearly three decades, members of 80 families in the colony eked out a living by putting up stage programmes, and made their locality a model colony.

But for the past six months, these performing artistes have been in dire straits due to Covid-19. Unable to stage performances, most of them are now construction workers, and sellers of fruits, vegetables and masks. They hope normalcy returns at the earliest so they can go back to their vocation.

“We are happy when we perform and entertain people. We request the government to create work for us, as the performing arts provide mental peace, which will help combat the pressures due to the Covid-19 crisis,” they say.

For the last three decades, these artistes have been publicising various government welfare programmes, and through their efforts, several people have benefited from government schemes.

Kondapalli Veraiah Bhagavatar and his team performing art at various places before lockdown. (Photo | EPS)

Veerabhadraiah Bhagavatar, moved by the plight of his fellow professional artistes, who didn’t have a place to stay, set up the Performing Artists Colony for 15 families of professional artistes on August 15, 1988.

In due course, it became home to 80 families of performing artistes. With help from the government and donors, an auditorium was built at a cost of `20 lakh, and used to stage several performances.When the colony was set up, the residents vowed to stay away from vices such as smoking and drinking, and till this day, they keep their promise. Another way in which they set an example was by residents of each house planting 10 saplings. Due to this, the entire colony is now under the shade of trees.

Veerabhadraiah Bhagavatar, an acclaimed artiste was awarded the Kalarathna in 2015. His fellow artists from the colony, using Yaksha Gana, Hari Katha, Burra Kata and folk songs, Relare-Rela and other such programmes, publicise government and private schemes and products. Special performances during festivals, meetings and conferences attract people in large numbers.

“Believing in the dignity of labour, several residents of the colony now work as daily wage labourers. However, they yearn deeply to get back on stage and perform. The government should consider their situation and lend a helping hand by engaging them in awareness programmes,” Kondapalli Seshsagri, a professional artiste, opined. Another professional artiste, Eduballi Prabhakar, said the government has helped different sections of society, and must now consider their plight. Other professional artistes echoed this opinion.


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