I am an introvert, says Shobana


S.R. Ashok Kumar

It's the Chennai season for music and dance in Chennai, and Shobana is busy, performing around the city. An acclaimed dancer, she has won national as well as regional awards for her film performances. Shobana speaks about her dance, films and her way of life.

I am an introvert. But, experience has changed me a lot. For me success did not come easily. I try to balance my activities — dance and acting.

I started learning dance when I was very young and my first professional performance was at the age of 14. At that time I found it difficult to balance dance and studies. Today too, some of my students are trying to balance the two. But only a few succeed.

I have done nearly 230 films in all the South Indian languages and Hindi and two Indian-made English films. The two films are Mithra - My Friend by Revathi and Dance like a Man. I have played some good roles in Malayalam and Tamil.

I would say my best films include four in Malayalam — Manichitra Thazhu, which got me my national award and which has now been remade as Chandramukhi featuring Rajnikant; Thenmavin Kumbathu, later made as Muthu in Tamil; Balumahendra's Yathra; and Magalukku.

My favourite film artistes are Kamal Haasan and Vivek. I like Simran for her dancing, and Revathi and Jothika for their acting abilities. In Hindi, Smita Patel for her acting, Aiswarya Rai for her dancing skills, Tabu and Nandita Das. But, if you want me to name someone with all these qualities, I would say it is Shobana.

The best compliment I ever received came from the legendary Sivaji Ganesan, who once wrote a beautiful letter praising my dance performance.

For me both films and dance are very important. I have cancelled a dance tour for the sake of films. Likewise I have refused movies for a dance performance. I treat them with equal respect. Both are different forms of art and I understand them and work on them separately in a very clear way.

I started my own dance school `Kalipinya' in 1989 and got it registered in 1992. The first `arangetram' by one of my students came in 1993. Today nearly 80 students are learning dance at my school.

My best performance in dance is the one I did at Music Academy in 2000 with Ganesh and Kumaresh. The second one was organised in Pune by the renowned Pandit Bhim Sen Joshi. And more recently, at Bharath Kalachar I got a standing ovation from the audience. For any artiste appreciation is more importanct than anything else.