DIVAKARLA TIRUPATI SASTRY (1872-1920) and CHELLAPILLA VENKATA SASTRY (1870-1950), poets, dramatists and translators, have more than a hundred works in Telugu and Sanskrit to their credit. Popularly known as Tirupati Venkata Kavulu, they worked as a duo, complementing each other.
Masters of the Avadhana, they took the Telugu metrical verse to the masses. Adept at handling any query or Sumasya hurled at them, they could hold audiences spellbound for hours with their ready wit, social concern and poetic gift. Their poetry deals with a variety of themes from the noblest to the lowliest.
Authors of more than a dozen dramas, which have been holding the stage till today, they were, in fact, responsible for giving original Telugu drama a foot-hold at a time when adaptations and translations were holding sway. Even today about 400 families making their living by performing their dramas. Tirupati Venkata Kavulu also gave fine renderings of masters from Kalidasa to Tagore.
Salva Krishnaniurthy (b. 1930) is currently professor of Telugu at the Presidency College, Madras. In this monograph he evaluates the lives and works of Tirupati Venkata Kavulu for the benefit of non-Telugu readers.
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