An equally accomplished dancer of Bharatnatyam Shobhana Chandrakumar Pillai list of achievements is wider than one can imagine. Her gurus included legendary Bharatnatyam dancers Chitra Visweswaran and Padma Subramaniam, while Shobhana herself is famed for her abhinaya, a pivotal element in Bharatnatyam. "It has always been films and dance for me. In fact facial expressions are inevitable in Bharatnatyam, abhinaya has always been inseparable from the natyashastras," says the accomplished actor, whose performance in Manichitrathazhu, a Malayalam movie, where she played a mentally-challenged woman was remarkable.
She was in the city on March 23, to perform at Dakshinayan, a Carnatic music festival organised by Banyan Tree events. "This is the fifth time I am performing in Pune. And it's always a delight as the audience in Pune is so much more groomed because of the various cultural festivals held here. They know when to applaud and more importantly when not to," says the danseuse, who has earlier performed at Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's Sawai Gandharva music festival. Her skilled execution of dance movements and her extraordinary beauty has led many people to consider her as the most beautiful South Indian actress from the 1980s through the 1990s. She is often compared to the curvaceous beauty of Indian sculptures.
Shobhana performed the dance of Kali, the black goddess and Dashaavatara, the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology in Pune. "Solo performance with the live music is always tougher than a group dance performance with musicians," she reveals, almost exhausted after her performance. The lady is also a proud teacher who has imparted her knowledge to hundreds of avid students. "My students have reached places. All of them have been teaching in various dance schools in USA and Europe," she says. Shobhana founded Kalarpana with the intention of the propagation of the classical arts. The aim of her organisation is to hold yearly festivals throughout India.