If you have not watched a Bhagavata Mela performance, the best place to do so would be in Melattur village near Thanjavur town in Tamil Nadu - the place where this hoary art form has been sustained by a few artistes.
But to expose it to many more people, the Mela artistes have been regulars now at the Chennai December Season, encouraged by sabhas and funders.
The Melattur Bhagavata Mela Natya Vidya Sangam (headed by Bharatham R Mali) had three recitals this season and though they were mostly in the mornings, the rasika who enjoys a different face of art was there to watch it.
This Bhagavata Mela troupe is headed by Mahalingam aka Melattur Mali and has been performing in the Chennai December season annually.
This art form from the Telugu heartland which travelled to the Thanjavur zone and was nourished there is now kept alive only by a few passionate artistes.
Besides Mahalingam, Natarajan also manages his own independent Mela troupe and has occasional shows.
Every year, in Melattur near Thanjavur, Mahalingam's team hosts a festival which now features all the major Bhagavata mela productions but also classical dances by some leading artistes. The Mela productions start by midnight and go into dawn and are 'must-watch' shows for people who like performing arts and have not been exposed to this one.
Contact Mahalingam's team at 99409 13294. It also undertakes tours for recitals.