Shobana, the celestial dancer, to perform in Oz


By K. Raman

It is no exaggeration to say that Shobana Chandrakumar’s memories will linger on in most men once they encounter her at some stage in their lives, infatuated with her celestial beauty and versatility in dancing.

Shobana excels in Bharathanatyam which is one India’s proudest unadulterated art heritages of more than a thousand years old. It is the oldest form of traditional south Indian dance Saint Bharatha initiated from which other dance forms evolved.

Bharathanatyam is a very highly complex and composite art form. In this mode of dance, artistic expression of mental feelings and emotional upheavals are expressed in an aesthetic and precise form that stays etched in the viewers’ mind for ever. If verse is a measured form of speech, dance is a measured form of pace. Like music, dance is the unspoken universal language of Gods.

Bharathanatyam remained same in character and format over its long chequered life, some minor changes incorporated along the way making it more appealing aesthetically. The change of tempo from slow to madhyama is one such aspect.

In one sense writing on Shobana, the elite dancing Apsara, is an easy task as she excels in Bharathanatyam with no frailties in its presentation. Imagine a flower bud, eye catching as it is, later blossoming into a flower revealing a spectrum of radiant petals glowing in myriad colours, crafted by nature, and spreading its alluring fragrance far and wide. This analogy describes Shobana aptly and the meteoric rise of her stature in the dance arena which happened by the time she became a teenager.

Shobana dances with extreme elegance and is an exponent of rigorous classical pacey dancing.   She approaches the art with a missionary zeal and dedication while she meticulously maintains the cores of discipline. Many dance experts say that great artists never go seeking knowledge and skills; rather it comes seeking the skilled.

She was born in a family of great dancers and actors which in itself is a God-given boon. She was into dancing at the tender age of three. By the time she was in her early and middle teens she had accrued name and fame unattained by many veterans.

Shobana toured around India and overseas performing in packed prestigious venues and receiving accolades from knowledgable audience. She received a unique distinction of performing in Queens, New York, to raise money for constructing the Raja   Gopuram of the local Ganesha shrine.

During her dance tour of Gulf countries in 1987, the impact of her performance prompted the local daily to write: “Shobana sets the U.A.E dancing”. Subsequently, she became the talk of the town in both US and Canada, where she performed at many prestigious venues.

In 1988, she danced at the World Malayalee convention at Chicago.   In front of the Malaysian Royalty at Putra Auditorium, she gave a scintillating Bharathanatyam performance in 1991.

Shobana was born on 21 March 1966 (Aries) in Kerala. Aries born are adventurous, energetic, confident, impatient, dare devil, with good leadership qualities, and capacity to inspire others.

She is a star pupil of the famous dance exponent Chitra Vishveswaran of Tanjavoor tradition. I had opportunities to talk to the great dance teacher on dancing in general and she spoke in glowing terms on the dedication and versatility of her highly regarded pupil, Shobana. The forte of Shobana’s   dance shows are the portrayal of the amalgam of the artistic abilities in her, like ”˜Abhinaya chaturya’, ”˜bhava prakatana at will’, clarity   line, agility, strong rhythmic command, symmetry in presentation of the idiom and above all, the most vital ingredient of ”˜Manodharma’.

God showers blessings in heaps to chosen few, which is true in Shobana’s case as she is also an accomplished actress in south Indian films. She has won countless awards to become a household name.

Shobana acted in close to 250 films and won fame and adulation that would be the envy of any Bollywood heroines.   In the first ten years of her reign she did 70 films which show the proliferation which is only achievable due to dedication of the performer and the public appeal and approval. She was in the minds of youths when she appeared on silver screen. Who would not be in romance with her, at least in dreams.

Beginning with child tear jerker roles she graduated to the brilliant acting role in ”˜Manichitrathazhu’ wherein she portrayed as a house wife possessed by a spirit. She entered Malayalam film industry through Balachandra Menon’s ”˜April 18’. Among her large portfolio of stellar performances ”˜Then mavin kombathu’, Mele parambil aan veedu’, ”˜Pavitram’, ”˜Mayamayooram’, ”˜Golanthara vartha’, ”˜Commissioner’, ”˜Pappayudae apposa’, ”˜Nadodikkattu’,’Aryan’, ”˜Vellanakalude naadu’,’Sasneham’ are some of my favourites. In all these films her leading lady’s roles are very divergent and she has applied her talents to the optimum.

Shobana is a great dancer, a versatile artist, a great ambassador for India who propagates the art of dance to other parts of the globe and above all, a fine individual who has no bad bones in her.

At the young age of only 44 it is far too early to say quits. While Shobana acts in highly challenging and selected movies only which appeals to her imagination, she spends considerable time running her dance academy known as ”˜Kalapramana’ school of dancing.

I wish Shobana remain as the ”˜Swargeya Narthaki’ for the sake of classical Bharathanatyam and her adoring fans of which I am one.

Her Previous dance performance in Sydney was in March 1994. She has agreed to dance at the Riverside auditorium, Parramatta on March 6, 2011. We should thank Sudhir Das of Soorya’ Sydney Chapter and Soorya Krishnamoorthy for getting Shobana to perform in Sydney.

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