There are some actors in the Malayalam movie industry, who doesn’t need to speak in order to express themselves, their face itself conveys the different moods – whether sorrow, happiness, anger, excitements….Shobhana is such an actress, who speaks with her eyes, with her smiles and even with her eyebrows.
Shobhana or Shobhana Chandrakumar Pillai started her experiments with the film industry at the very young age of thirteen. Born to Chandrakumar and Dr. Anandam, cinema and dance were always there in her blood. She is the niece of the famous Travancore sisters – Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini. No wonder of the grace, she always spread over the stages, she performs.
The debut movie of the ace actress released in the year 1984. The man behind her introduction to the cine world was Balachandra Menon, who directed the movie ‘April 18’. Her much matured performance as Menon’s wife in this movie, made her the darling of the Malayalam movie industry. The nickname ‘Kutta’ of Shobhana, addressed by her husband in this movie, also became famous. Years later in the movie ‘Sasneham’, Menon and Shobhana shared screen together again.
The actors of 80’s and 90’s were very lucky to be part of very good projects and to be associated with brilliant directors and script writers. Shobhana was also one among them. At the beginning of her career, Shobhana got chances to work with I V Shashi, Bharathan, K S Sethu Madhavan, M T Vasudevan Nair, Balu Mahendra, Sathyan Anthikaad etc. All these movies were very well noticed.
Shobhana entered into the cine world, when the present superstars of the Malayalam movie industry – Mohanlal and Mammootty were budding stars. She was lucky enough to be part of multi-starred projects of both Mammootty and Mohanlal. Their movies like Anubhandham and Aviduthe Pole Evideyum, were a treat to the family audience. We will be confused, with whom she is looking cuter. Both actors were perfect on-screen pairs for Shobhana.
Her movies with Mammootty, like Yatra, Kanamarayathu, Vicharana, Vishnu, Kshamichu Ennoru Vaaku, Hitler etc were highly applauded. Especially the character ‘Tulasi’ of Yatra, will always remain in the minds of Malayalees. With her stunning performance, she gave life to the innocent ‘Tulasi’ in one of the ever romantic movies of Balu Mahendra. But, interestingly, it is with Mohanlal, Shobhana has paired in numerous movies.
The late 80s and early 90s were her time. Mohanlal was also emerging as one of the most wanted heroes of the Malayalam movie industry. Their movies like T P Balagopalan M A, Kunjattakilikal, Anubhandham, Pakshe, Thenmavin Kombathu, Nadodikaattu, Thenmaavin Kombathu, Pavithram etc were evergreen movies of Malayalam. They were always loved by the movie lovers. When they appear together, some magic happens on-screen, and it seems like they both always tried to compete with each other in acting.
Though Shobhana’s performances in each and every movie were appreciable, it was the 1993 movie ‘Manichithrathaazhu’, which brought fame to her career. Shobhana received the National award for best actress for her performance in this movie. We can’t ever imagine any other actress other than her, giving life to ‘Nagavalli’. No one can replace her in this role. The remake of this movie into other languages proved this fact again and again. Shobhana won her second National award for ‘Mitr’, My friend, an English movie directed by actress Revathi.
Years have never affected the calibre of this beautiful actress. She proved this with her comeback movie in Malayalam – Thira. Thanks to Vineeth Sreenivasan, the director of ‘Thira’, who gave Malayalees another chance to see the stunning performance of Shobhana again. Her character as Dr. Rohini Prathap was well received in the theatres. The movie was also the debut movie of ‘Dhyan Sreenivasan’, brother of Vineeth Sreenivasan.
Apart from Malayalam movies, Shobhana has also enacted in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and English projects. She was lucky enough to share the screen with the great actors like Rajanikanth, Kamal Hassan, Vijay Kanth, Bhagyaraj etc in various Tamil movies. She has been part of the Hindi projects such as Mere Baap Pehle Aap and Apna Aasmaan. ‘Mere Baap Pehle Aap’ was directed by Priyadarshan and was the remake of Malayalam movie ‘Ishtam’.
A talk about Shobhana will be incomplete without mentioning her contribution as a dancer. She is basically a dancer. An artist, who has dedicated all her life for dancing. Shobhana is specialised in Bharathanatyam, the National dance of India. She did her dance training from Chithambaram Academy in Chennai and was a disciple of Padma Subramaniam and Chitra Visweshwaran. She has performed in various stages around the world. She started her dance school ‘Kalrpana’ in 1994 and it is now one of the coveted institutions for dance in India.
Shobhana is one of the blessed actresses of the South Indian movie industry, especially the Malayalam movie industry. With her grace and elegance, she has conquered all the stages, she stepped. Shobhana still stays single and in 2010 she adopted a baby girl (Ananthanarayani) and is continuing her journey as a dancer and as an actor.