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Shobana perfomence.jpg
Shobana performing Bharata Natyam dance
Born Shobana Chandrakumar Pillai
21 March 1970 (1970-03-21) (age 45)[1]
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Occupation Actress, dancer, choreographer, Mridangam player and stage performer
Years active 1984-2000
Spouse(s) Spinster
Children Ananthanarayani
(Adopted in 2010)
  • Chandrakumar Pillai
  • Anandam Chandrakumar

Shobana (born Shobana Chandrakumar Pillai) is 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.[2][3]

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. Balachander, 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.[4][5]

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.[4]

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 on 21 March 1970 [1] to Chandrakumar & Dr.Anandam in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She did her schooling in Chennai at Sishya school, Adyar. Shobana is unmarried and a Spinster. Shobana adopted a baby girl and named her Anantha-narayani in 2010.

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 is her cousin and Krishna is her nephew.[1] Shobana has been very private about her relationships and love life.


Film career[edit]

Shobana in a dance and theatre format musical in Bangalore

She started her career as a child artist at the age of 9 in the movie Neela Malargal directed by Krishnan-Panju. She made friends with Rohini in her second movie Lakshmi Pooja.[9] Shobana made her adult debut 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.[5] "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 [10]

Her other major films include Kanamarayathu, Ithiri Poove Chuvanna Poove (1984), Yathra, Rangam (1985), Anantaram, Vrutham (1987), Idhu Namma Aalu (1988), Siva (1989), Innale (1990), Thalapathi (1991), Manichitrathazhu (1993), Thenmavin Kombath (1994),Minnaram(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.[11] Shobana also stars in the Tamil period film Kochadaiiyaan.[2]

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".[12] 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.[13]

Classical dance career[edit]

Shobhana is an accomplished Bharata Natyam dancer.[14] 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.[15] Shobhana started performing in prestigious Soorya Music & Dance festival organised by Soorya Krishnamoorthy from the year 1994.[16] 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.[17]

Shobana performing dance



Year Title Role Awards
1984 April 18 Shobhana
1984 Kanamarayathu Sherly
1984 Ithiri Poove Chuvanna Poove Subhadra
1985 Avidathepole Ivideyum Sujatha
1985 Vasantha Sena Merlin
1985 Meenamasathile Sooryan Revathi
1985 Azhiyatha Bandhangal Geetha
1985 Eeran Sandhya Prabha
1985 Thammil Thammil Kavitha
1985 Anubandham Vijayalakshmi
1985 Ee Shabdam Innathe Shabdam Sharada
1985 Ayanam Alice
1985 Yathra Thulasi
1985 Rangam
1985 Oru Naal Innorunaal Rajani
1985 Upaharam Maggie Fernandez
1986 Udayam Padinjaru Renu
1986 T. P. Balagopalan M.A. Anitha
1986 Kunjattakilikal Usha
1986 Iniyum Kurukshethram Lekha
1986 Aayiram Kannukal Anu
1986 Ente Entethu Mathrem Ambili
1986 Abhayam Thedi Meera/Miranda
1986 Kshamichu Ennoru Vakku Indu
1986 Nyayavidhi Geetha
1986 Ee Kaikalil Viji Balakrishnan
1986 Padayani Radha
1986 Chilambu Ambika
1986 Rareeram Meera
1986 Meenamasathile Sooryan Revathi
1987 Vrutham Nancy
1987 Nadodikattu Radha
1987 Ithrayum Kaalam Savithri
1987 Kalam Mari Katha Mari Ummu Kolzu
1987 Anantaram Suma, Nalini
1987 Naalkavala -
1988 Vicharana Anitha
1988 Vellanakalude Nadu Radha
1988 Janmandharam Sridevi
1988 Aryan Aswathy
1988 Aparan Ambili
1988 Dhwani Devi
1988 Mukthi Radhika
1989 Charithram Cicily
1989 Innale Maya/ Gowri
1990 Iyer the Great Amala
1990 Sasneham Saraswathi
1990 Kalikkalam Annie
1991 Vasthuhara Young Bhavani
1991 Ulladakkam Annie
1991 Kankettu Sujatha
1992 Oru Kochu Bhoomikulukkam indu
1992 Pappayude Swantham Appoos Bhama
1993 Maya Mayuram Bhadra
1993 Meleparambil Aanveedu Pavizham
1993 Manichitrathazhu Ganga/Nagavalli
1994 Pavithram Meera
1994 Commissioner Indu Kurup
1994 Thenmavin Kombathu Karthumbi
1994 Pakshe Nandini Menon
1994 Minnaram Neena
1994 Vishnu Susanna Mathews
1994 Manathe Vellitheru Merlin
1994 Sindoora Rekha Arundhathi
1995 Mazhayethum Munpe Uma Maheshwari
1995 Minnaminuginum Minnukettu Radhika
1996 Kumkumacheppu Indu
1996 Aramana Veedum Anjoorekkarum Alli
1996 Hitler Gowri
1996 Superman Nithya
1997 Kalyana Kacheri Gopika
1997 Kaliyoonjal Gowri
1999 Agni Sakshi Devaki Manampalli
2000 Sradha Suma
2000 Valliettan Devi
2004 Mambazhakkalam Indira
2005 Makalkku Killeri
2009 Sagar alias Jacky Reloaded Indu
2013 Thira Dr. Rohini Pranab
2014 Pavada G.Marthandan








  1. ^ a b c "ജീവിതത്തിന്‌ ഇപ്പോള്‍ എന്തൊരു രുചി...!". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "In pics: Shobana dedicates her dance to 'Krishna'". IBNLive. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "New Straits Times - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "The Hindu : Metro Plus Bangalore / Personality : Thinking actress". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Sneha May Francis, Gulf News Report. "Shobana's mystical twist to an epic". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Retrieved 2009-07-23. 
  7. ^ "Welcome to". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "About". Archived from the original on 8 September 2011. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "In her own groove". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "In pics: Shobana dedicates her dance to 'Krishna'". IBNLive. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  12. ^ S.R. Praveen. "Sequel fails to impress". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "The Hindu : Shobhana changing track". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Manorama Online - Movies - News". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "SHOBANA – exponent of Bharata Natyam – Indian classical performing arts". Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  16. ^ "Bharathanatyam concert by Padma shri Shobana". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  17. ^ " - Malayalam Film Actress Shobana". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 

External links[edit]