Veteran Bhagavata Mela artiste S. Natarajan was decorated with an award this December season in Chennai by the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha - in recognition of his long contribution to sustaining and promoting the hoary art form that now remains alive in some parts of Thanjavur zone, Tamil Nadu.
Natarajan carries with the tradition that was guarded and nourished by his grand father when these artistes moved to the Tanjore areas.
The art form which once flourished in the Andhra heartland faded away there but was sustained by Mela artistes who migrated to the Tamil country some 400 years ago.
The tradition was continued by Natarajan's father, Swaminathan.
Both artistes devoted their lives to the art form.
Natarajan himself slipped into this field early like all others and has been known for essaying female character roles with ease. Natarajan has carved a niche for himself in every leading heroine roles he portrayed. Be it Leelavati from Prahlada Charitamu or Chandramati from Harichandra Natakamu.
Though he has also nowadays donned the roles of male characters.
He has also dug up old scripts of the Mela tradition and produced some of the productions of yore.
He has been decorated with many awards in the past including the Tamil Nadu state's Kalaimamani award.
More info can be had at http://www.bhagavatamela.org/intro.html