S. Natarajan

Born in 1943 in Melattur, in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, Shri S. Natarajan is the grandson of the pioneer of the Bhagavata- mela theatre, V. Ganesa Iyer, who was responsible for its resurrection in the 1930s. Shri Natarajan was groomed as an artist in this theatre under his illustrious father G. Swami- nathan, as well as other eminent teachers including Balu Bhagavatar, K. Ramani Iyer, and G. Krishnamurthy Sarma. He also received training in nritta under the Bharatanatyam gurus K.R. Kittappa Pillai and Pandana- llur Shanmugasundaram Pillai. Though employed abroad as an engineer, he has been parallely working as a theatre artist with the Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Jayanti Bhagavata- mela Natya Nataka Sangam of Mellatur for half a century. A masterly actor with an equal command over abhinaya and nritta, Shri Natarajan has excelled in his portrayal of heroines in the Bhagavatamela drama, such as Leelavati in Prahlada Charitamu, Chandra- mati in Harishchandra Natakarnu, Usha in Osha Parinayamu, and Mohini in Rukmangadha. Like his father, he is also known for his prowess in the roles of Ravana, Bhasma- sura, Bhishma and Dasharatha. Shri Natarajan has been directing Bhagavatamela plays since his twenties, and in that capacity has striven to rid the theatre of untraditional usages. Thus he has removed the curtain and non-textual parts from the performance, and has restored the purvaranga which had become extinct. He has recover- ed several plays of Venkata- rama Sastry which had been lost to the Bhagavatamela theatre, and has staged most of that dramatists copus. To preserve the living art, he has involved young people in his performan- ces, and has written and lectured on the subject widely. An extremely popular actor, Shri Natarajan has been honoured by several institutions in Tamil Nadu. He received the Kalaimamani title from the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram in 1978. Shri S. Natarajan receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his service to the Bhagavata- mela theatre.