Vaalatulya is the name of the character of a court jester who follows Uttara Kumara in the Telugu movie 'Nartanashala'. Sri Allu Ramalangaih shines in the role of Vaalatulya, while Relangi Venkataramaiah does a splendid job as Uttara Kumara.
Vaalatulya, a short man, follows the hero incessantly. Uttara Kumara strolls, followed by Vaaltulya at a short distance. Valatulya often appears as the compatriot of the hero. Both are in different clothes, with Uttara kumara in princely attire and Vaaltulya as a commoner. Their walking style and body language provide a lot of fresh entertainment. Vaalatulya sports a fanciful costume and a cap like a clown with his hand on the sword tucked to his left side. He wears 'jhumkis' in his ears which the girls usually wear. Even the hairdo of, Vaaltulya is a pleasure to watch. While he hardly utters a few words, he always tends to imitate his boss, 'Uttara Kumara', in synching lips and hand movements. When his boss sits down, he stands next to him, nodding his head. He has an alert mind that operates like a computer while observing the boss's movements.
In the climax scenes of the movie, when Uttara Kumara offers to lead the army, Vaalatulya is watching him with awe. Uttara Kumara expresses his dismay when he learns that Vaalayulya has also gone to the war front. He leaves his boss when he joins all the men in the kingdom heading towards war, which is the last time we see him in the movie.
In the days of yore, the king or the prince had a 'sidekick' called Vidushaka( court jester). The vidushaka is a noble, good-hearted, blundering fool but a king's trusted friend. He had a defined role to interrupt and entertain the king when stressed. He had 24/7 hour access to the king. He is a bald glutton, comic in speech and manners, but he is the darling of the spectators. While he does not contribute more thoughtfully to any meeting, he sometimes becomes a nuisance. Bharathamuni describes the role of 'vidushaka' eloquently in Bharatha Sastra, putting him alongside the main characters as an essential part of the narrative and a close ally of the hero. Even though humour is the crucial trait of a Vidhushaka, he also enlightens the audience with his wisdom.
Valatulyas appear in the corporate world too. They hang around the boss all the time. They say 'yes' to whatever the boss says without rhyme or reason. But they add a lot of entertainment value to the proceedings. The working day becomes stale without these characters. My experience tells me that it is easier to survive in a few organisations with 'Vaalatulya' as the garb.
I remembered one of the best performances of Sri Ramalingaiah and wrote the story on his hundredth birth centenary last week.