Bhulakshmi devi, the childless queen of King Navabhoja Raja prays to sage Jatanga for children. The sage tells her to take seven fruits from the mango tree in the garden and eat. The queen, in her greed plucks the eighth fruit as well. The guard of the tree, Nagendra appears before her and lifts its hood to kill her. The queen begs for life with a promise that after giving birth to her children she will come back to take the punishment. Nagendra agrees. Queen gives birth to seven baby girls. The seventh child is named Balanagamma. After this, queen asks for permission to fulfill her promise to the snake king, but her husband doesn't allow her to go. The enraged Nagendra enters the royal palace and kills the queen. The king, after her death, marries Mandula Manyakamba Devi. The new queen tries to kill the children but Bhulakshmi's soul protects them. Later, when the girls attain the marriageable age they get married into Panughanthi family. Balanagamma gets married to Karyavardhi and gives birth to 'Balavardhi'. The beauty of Balanagma becomes a curse as she gets kidnapped by an evil magician Marati. When Karyavardhi with his brothers, comes in search of his wife, the magician turns them into statues and Balanagamma into a dog. Ultimately, 'Balavardhi' extracts the secret of the magician's powers and his life and kills him. Balanagamma is reunited with her son and husband.
Surabhi , a rare institution of family theatres in India has an unbroken record of 130 years. This vibrant theatre form has been patronized both by the urban and rural theatre lovers in Andhra Pradesh. The Legacy of Surabhi theatre began in a Village called Surabhi (originally called Sorugu ), a tiny hamlet in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh.
The ancestors of this theatre family migrated from Maharashtra in the early 18th century. Members of the Vanarasa family, the earliest Surabhi ancestral family in Andhra mastered the art of ' Tholu Bommalata' the traditional shadow-puppet play. In the year 1885, a theatrical effort was initiated by Vanara-sa Govindrao and Chinna Ramayya. They were invited to perform at a wedding in the house of patrons, Rami Reddy and Chenna Reddy where they staged 'Keechaka Vadha' an episode from the Mahabharata, which was till then depicted using leather puppets. This Production was a huge success and a turning point for the puppeteer family, which decided to further promote the live drama, and thus began the Surabhi theatre movement in Andhara. The baton of stage was thereon transferred from one generation to the next and presently it is with the seventh generation.
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