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Thinking actress

Shobana, the thinking actress, likes to give priority to creative satisfaction


SHE BELONGS to the genre of artistes who are both actresses and dancers. A two-time National Award winner of best actress — Manichitrathazhu (Malayalam) and Mitr: My Friend (English), Shobana made her debut in Balachandra Menon's blockbuster April 18. Her legacy in films was handed down from her famous aunts, the Travancore trio — Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini.

Soon, movies like Kanaamarayathu, Innale, Thenmavin Kombathu, Manichitrathazhu and Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Anantharam, catapulted her to the dizzy heights of stardom and she was the frontrunner for almost a decade in Malayalam.

She also had some blockbusters in Tamil, including Maniratnam's Dhalapathi. Recently, Shobana won appreciation for her role in Pamela Rooks' Dance like a Man.

Now, the actress has come out with an entirely different performance as a mentally deranged woman in Makalkku, another path-breaker from award winning director Jayaraj. The film revolves around a mentally ill woman played brilliantly by Shobana. She utters just one word throughout the film Killeri.

Recently, Shobana took time off to talk to Metroplus. How did the audience react to Mambazhakalam? "The movie is a hit. My audience have grown old with me and their preferences keep changing. As an artiste, I thrive on creativity and having acted in more than 225 films I look for such elements even in a commercial film."

An artistic mish-mash

A noted exponent of classical dance, Shobana also runs a dance school Kalarpana, which she founded when she was just 20 to commit herself to popularising the classical arts. "When you start teaching early, the next generation learns faster."

Shobana says she is a mish-mash of both - dancer and actress. "Both are an integral part of me. Being an actress helps me know the pulse of the public and keep pace with the changing trends. As a dancer, I try and go with that pulse but, at the same time, adhere to rules."

Her inspiration? "Any creative effort ... the talent of the younger generation excites me and inspires me to come out with a great performance. I go by instinct." Asked about the sea change in the concept and execution of dance in films and the lack of a distinctive style, Shobana says: "It keeps changing. What we have in cinema today is a new form of dance. You need to look at it with an aesthetic eye. Who is to say what is good and what is bad. For instance, I liked the choreography of Chennai Senthamizh from M. Kumaran and the Sakkara inikkira in New."

She has played them all — a teenager, a village belle, a mother, a housewife and a schizophrenic and "enjoyed the variety in the roles." Her take on parallel cinema? "I have always been a child of parallel cinema. Ten to 20 films of mine are in the parallel stream... even Makalkku was challenging. I'm on the lookout for meaty roles."

What is her idea of a good film? "I should get carried away by it. Take Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam for instance, it has a good mix of everything — performances, screenplay and music." About new-age films, she says: "Film writers have changed, the audience have changed. We should teach the audience to appreciate good films."

So, what's happening to the book she plans to write? "Will not tell you what's in store. Let there be some suspense," she says as a parting shot.

K. JESHI

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