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Shobana perfomence.jpg
Shobana performing Bharata Natyam dance
Born Shobana Chandrakumar Pillai
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Occupation Actress, dancer, choreographer, Mridangam player and stage performer
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Children Ananthanarayani (adopted)
  • Chandrakumar Pillai
  • Anandam Chandrakumar

Shobana (born Shobana Chandrakumar Pillai) is an Indian film actress and Bharata Natyam dancer from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She has acted in more than 200 films in several languages including Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada and English.[1][2]

Shobana was a lead actress in a number of southern Indian films during the 1980s and 1990s. She has worked with directors such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan, G Aravindan, K Balachandar, AM Fazil, Mani Ratnam, Bharathan and Priyadarsan. She won the National Film Award for Best Actress twice, for her performances in the films Manichitrathazhu (1993) and Mitr, My Friend (2001). Consequent to the 1993 National Award, Shobana turned extremely selective about her films.[3][4]

Shobana was trained under the Bharata Natyam dancers, Chitra Visweswaran and Padma Subrahmanyam. She emerged as an independent performer and choreographer in her twenties and currently runs a dance school, Kalarpana, in Chennai.[5]

In 2006, the Indian Government honoured Shobana with the Padma Shri for her contributions towards the classical dance.[6][7] In 2014, The Kerala Government honoured her with the Kala Ratna Award

Personal life[edit]

Shobana was born to Chandrakumar & Dr.Anandam in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 21 March. She did her schooling in Chennai at Sishya school, Adyar.

In 2010, Shobana adopted a baby girl and named her Ananthanarayani.

She is the niece of the Travancore sistersLalitha, Padmini and Ragini, all of whom were classical Indian dancers and actresses.[8] The actress Sukumari is her paternal aunt. Malayalam actress Ambika Sukumaran is her relative. Malayalam actors Vineeth and Krishna are her cousins.[9]


Film career[edit]

Shobana in a dance and theatre format musical in Bangalore

Shobana made her adult début in the 1984 Malayalam film April 18 directed by Balachandra Menon. Her realistic portrayal of a simple girl-next-door appealed to audiences instantly and she went on to work in numerous films. "Debut as heroine I was all of 13 and a half but I didn’t look that young. I was 5’8” and people around me thought I should act as an 18-year-old off the sets. It put me in a shell initially because I was straight out of school," she later explained. In the same year she entered the Tamil film industry and acted in Enakkul Oruvan directed by SP Muthuraman.[10] "Acting with Kamal Haasan I was 14, if you ask me now I would say I was nervous. But then he was a star and I was stunned.", Shobhana remembered acting along with Kamal Haasan in her early career. Enakkul Oruvan didn’t do well at the box office and Shobhana's commercial landing was stalled and she went back into Malayalam films. She did come back to act in occasional Tamil films opposite Satyaraj (Mallu Vetti Minor, Vaathiyar Veetu Pillai), Bhagyaraj (Ithu Namma Aalu) and Vijayakanth (Ponmana Selvan, En Kitta Mothathey) in the early 90s - these roles were generally glamorous in which Shobana generally acted as the beautiful, posh and haughty City girl who is eventually charmed by the village boy [11]

Her other major films include Kanamarayathu, Ithiri Poove Chuvanna Poove (1984), Yaathra, Rangam (1985), Anantaram, Vrutham (1987), Idhu Namma Aalu (1988), Siva (1989), Innale (1990), Thalapathi (1991), Manichitrathazhu (1993), Thenmavin Kombath (1994), Dance like a Man (2003), Mampazhakkalam (2004) and Makalkku (2005). From Aviduthe Pole Ivideyum to Upaharam, Shobana did twelve movies in a single year, 1985.[12]

Shobana's also stars in the upcoming Tamil period film Kochadaiiyaan.[13]

Shobana won her first National Film Award for Best Actress in 1994 for her performance in AM Fazil's Manichitrathazhu. Her portrayal of Ganga Nakulan and alter-ego Nagavalli in the film was described by critics as "spell binding".[14] She received her second National award for best actress in 2001 for her role in the Indian English language film Mitr, My Friend, directed by Revathi. Consequent to the 1993 National Award, Shobana turned extremely selective about her films. "In films I think I did everything possible in dance. There were many people who were weaving scripts around me for my dancing acumen. In one of the films, I play a handicapped girl and yet there was a sequence in which I break into a dance. Probably, they had their reasons. That was when I got bored." says Shobhana, explaining the reason for a long sabbaticals in her career.[15]

Classical dance career[edit]

Shobhana is an accomplished Bharata Natyam dancer.[16] She did her dance training at the Chidambaram academy in Chennai, Tamil Nadu under Chitra Visweswaran. Shobhana danced Abhinaya, a pivotal element in Bharata Natyam.She was one among the judges in Jodi No.1,a reality show for dance aired in Vijay TV.

She has worked on collaborative ventures with the likes of tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, Vikku Vinayakram and Mandolin Srinivas. Her recitals abroad include those at the World Malayalee convention, in the United States in 1985 and 1995, in Kuala Lumpur before the King and Queen of Malaysia, numerous cities in the United States, Europe, South East Asia and Australia.[17] Shobhana started performing in prestigious Soorya Music & Dance festival organised by Soorya Krishnamoorthy from the year 1994.[18] In 1999, Shobhana along with Prabhu Deva and AR Rahman performed with a Tamil film dancing troupe at the "Michael Jackson and Friends" concert in Munich, Germany. She was also a part of Mani Ratnam's stage show, Netru, Indru, Naalai in 2000.

In 1994, Shobana founded a school for classical dance Bharata Natyam in Chennai – Kalarpana.[19]


Shobana performing dance.
National Film Awards

Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress

Filmfare Awards South
Kerala Film Critics Award
Other Awards
Honours and titles in classical dance
  • Natya Ratna - Awarded by the Deccan fine arts,Secundrabad (1992)
  • Natya Jyothi - Awarded by the Indian fine arts, Australia (1994)
  • Yuva Kala Bharthi - Awarded by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai (1995)
  • Natya Mayuri - 1995
  • Bharata Kalaratna - Awarded by Bharathalaya (1996)
  • Nadana Mamani - Awarded by Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai (1997)
  • Ugadi Purskhar - 1998
  • Nritya Choodamani - Awarded by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai (2007)
  • Kalaimamani - Awarded by the Government of Tamil Nadu (2009)
  • Nritya Kala Nipuna - Awarded by the Mylapore fine arts club, Chennai(2012)
  • Kala Ratna - Awarded by Government of Kerala (2014)



Year Title Director Role Co-Actor
1984 April 18 Balachandra Menon Shobhana Balachandra Menon
1984 Kanamarayathu I. V. Sasi Sherly
1984 Ithiri Poove Chuvanna Poove Bharathan Subhadra
1985 Aviduthe Pole Ivideyum K. S Sethumadhavan Sujatha
1985 Vasanthasena K.Vijayan Merlin
1985 Meenamasathile Sooryan Lenin Rajendran Revathi
1985 Azhiyatha Bandhangal Sasikumar Geetha
1985 Eeran Sandhya Jeassey Prabha
1985 Thammil Thammil Sajan Kavitha
1985 Anubandham I. V. Sasi Vijayalakshmi Mohanlal
1985 Ee Shabdam Innathe Shabdam P.G Vishwambharan Sharada
1985 Ayanam Harikumar Alice
1985 Yaathra Balu Mahendra Thulasi Mamootty
1985 Rangam I.V. Sasi
1985 Oru Naal Innorunaal Raji Rajani
1985 Upahaaram Sajan Maggie Fernandez
1986 Udayam Padinjaru Madhu Renu
1986 T. P. Balagopalan M.A. Sathyan Anthikkad Anitha Mohanlal
1986 Kunjattakilikal Sasikumar Usha
1986 Iniyum Kurukshethram Sasikumar Lekha
1986 Ente Enteth Mathram Sasikumar Ambili
1986 Abhayam Thedi I. V. Sasi Meera/Miranda
1986 Kshamichu Ennoru Vakku Joshiy Indu
1986 Nyayavidhi Joshiy Geetha
1986 Ee Kaikalil K. Madhu Viji Balakrishnan
1986 Padayani T. S. Mohan Radha Mamootty, Mohanlal
1986 Chilambu Bharathan Ambika Rahman
1986 Rareeram Sibi Malayil Meera
1987 Vrutham I. V. Sasi Nancy Kamalahasan
1987 Nadodikattu Sathyan Anthikkad Radha Mohanlal
1987 Ithrayum Kaalam I. V. Sasi Savithri
1987 Kalam Mari Katha Mari M. Krishnan Nair Ummu Kolzu
1987 Anantaram Adoor Gopalakrishnan Suma, Nalini
1988 Vicharana Sibi Malayil Anitha Mamootty
1988 Vellanakalude Nadu Priyadarshan Radha Mohanlal
1988 Janmandaram Thambi Kannanthanam Sridevi
1988 Aryan Priyadarshan Aswathy Mohanlal, Maniyanpilla Raju
1988 Aparan Padmarajan Ambili Jayaram
1988 Dhwani A. T Abu Devi Jayaram
1988 Mukthi I. V. Sasi Radhika
1989 Charithram G. S Vijayan Cicily
1989 Innale Padmarajan Maya/ Gowri Jayaram
1990 Iyer the Great Bhadran Amala Mamootty
1990 Sasneham Sathyan Anthikkad Saraswathi Balachandra Menon
1990 Kalikkalam Sathyan Anthikkad Annie Mamootty
1991 Vasthuhara G. Aravindan Young Bhavani Mohanlal
1991 Ulladakkam Kamal Annie Mohanlal
1991 Kankettu Rajan Balakrishnan Sujatha Jayaram
1992 Oru Kochu Bhoomikukukkam P. Chandrashekharan indu Sidhik
1992 Pappayude Swantham Appoos Fazil Bhama Mamootty
1993 Maya Mayuram Sibi Malayil Bhadra Mohanlal
1993 Meleparambil Aanveedu Rajasenan Pavizham Jayaram
1993 Manichitrathazhu Fazil Ganga/Nagavalli Suresh Gopi
1994 Pavithram T. K. Rajeev Kumar Meera Mohanlal
1994 Commissioner Shaji Kailas Indu Kurup Suresh Gopi
1994 Thenmavin Kombathu Priyadarshan Karthumbi Mohanlal
1994 Pakshe Mohan Nandini Menon Mohanlal
1994 Minnaram Priyadarshan Neena Mohanlal
1994 Vishnu P. Sreekumar Susanna Mathews Mamootty
1994 Manathe Vellitheru Fazil Merlin Lalu Alex
1994 Sindoora Rekha Sibi Malayil Arundhathi Suresh Gopi
1995 Mazhayethum Munpe Kamal Uma Maheshwari Mamootty
1995 Minnaminunginum Minnukettu Thulasidas Radhika Jayaram
1996 Kumkumcheppu Thulasidas Indu Manoj. K. Jayan
1996 Aramanaveedum Anjoorekkarum Anil Babu Alli Jayaram
1996 Hitler Siddique Gauri Mamootty
1996 Superman Rafi Mecartin Nithya Jayaram
1997 Kalyana Kacheri Anil Chandra Gopika Mukesh
1997 Kaliyoonjal Anil Babu Gauri Mamootty
1999 Agni Sakshi Shyamaprasad Devaki Manampalli
2000 Shradha I. V. Sasi Suma Mohanlal
2000 Valliettan Shaji Kailas Devi Mamootty
2004 Mambazhakkalam Joshiy Indira Mohanlal
2005 Makalkku Jayaraj Killeri Suresh Gopi
2009 Sagar alias Jacky Reloaded Amal Neerad Indu Mohanlal
2013 Thira Vineeth Sreenivasan Dr. Rohini Pranab
2014 Pavada G.Marthandan




  • Shiva Shankar (1990)
  • Giribale (1985)




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  6. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Retrieved 2009-07-23. 
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  8. ^ "About". Archived from the original on 8 September 2011. 
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  17. ^ "SHOBANA – exponent of Bharata Natyam – Indian classical performing arts". Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  18. ^ "Bharathanatyam concert by Padma shri Shobana". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  19. ^ " - Malayalam Film Actress Shobana". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
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