In Telugu ‘metered’ poetry “chaaTu” poem belongs to a separate genre. It is different from the well organized poetry that appears in the ‘kavyas’ and ‘prabandhas’ of Telugu language that it belonged to both the common man and the learned one alike and dealt with by both in a more meaningful way, that is to say that meaning of the poem was given more importance than the rules of poetry. This does not, in anyway, mean that the rules of poetry were completely disregarded by the persons who dealt with it. It only means to say that it was the meaning of the poem that ruled than the rules of poetry and that more often than not all the specifications of ‘meter’ (chchandassu) were very well taken care of even by the common person while telling the ‘chaaTu’ poem, except for one or two aberrations, one may find, here and there.
‘chaaTu’ poem can be described as the one having the following necessary characteristics:
- it used to be necessarily a stand-alone poem;
- it was very often than not an instantaneous response;
- it was very often than not witty; and
- it reveled in real life situations and hence revealed small bits of history.
Quite a lot of ‘chaaTu’ poetry in Telugu remained ‘unnamed’ as for as the authorship of the poem is concerned. The richness of the meaning and the wit of the poem made them to hold on to the memory of the common folk who have passed it on to the next generation. It has been like ‘vedam’, but the idea behind the legacy might have been different. In respect of ‘vedam’, it has been ‘unflinching reverence’, whereas in respect of ‘chaaTu’ poetry it might have been the sheer pleasure and at times great awe at the pun and the wit it carried.