In his mid-50s now, Chanduri Kotayya Chari has been making bommalus for several decades now. A third generation Kondapalli artisan, he honed the crafting skills passed on to him by his parents. Even as a child, Chanduri was deeply fascinated with crafting Kondapalli toys. He would keenly observe his grandfather chisel pieces of Tella Poniki wood into fine articles which were later hand-painted in vibrant colours. A resident of the famed bomalla (toy) colony in Kondapalli, Chanduri is supported in his workshop by his wife, son and daughter-in-law and is also able to provide work to 10-12 other artisans.
A high-school dropout, Chanduri is very passionate about the craft and his creations. Ask him about the difficulties in gaining expertise in his craft, and he immediately quips that it simply depends on how devoted the artisan is. Although he acknowledges challenges like the gradually declining supply of the Poniki wood and competition from factory produced toys, he also believes that the ancient roots of the craft hold an intrinsic, irresistible charm. He adds that if the original crafting processes continue to be preserved, increasing number of well-informed consumers will certainly appreciate and value the craft more, which will in turn help the craft and craftsmen thrive.