Shobana Chandrakumar Pillai (born March 21, 1966) is an exponent of the Bharatanatyam dance and a leading actress of South Indian motion pictures. She was born into a Malayalam speaking family from Kerala, India. Shobana is the niece of the Travancore sisters Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini, all of whom, who were renowned for their skill in classical Indian dance. She has acted in over 150 movies in 5 languages.
Shobana acted for the first time in a leading role in the Malayalam motion picture "April 18" in 1984, directed by Balachandra Menon. She also acted alongside the Malayalam actor Mammootty in the film Kanamarayathu (1984). Shobana won her first National Award from the government of India, for best performance as an actress in 1994. She was awarded for her stunning performance in Fazil's movie Manichitrathazhu, starring Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi. She bagged a second National award for best actress in the year 2002 for her role in an English language film Mitr, My Friend, directed by Revathi.
As a Dancer
Shobhana is an equally accomplished dancer of Bharatanatyam. She did her dance training at the Chidambaram academy in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Her gurus included legendary Bharatanatyam dancers Chitra Visweswaran and Padma Subramaniam. Shobhana is famed for her Abhinaya, a pivotal element in Bharatanatyam. She performed in Kuala Lumpur before the King and Queen of Malaysia. Shobhana's 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 equaled to the curvaceous beauty of Indian sculptures. Shobhana has founded a school for classical Bharatanatyam dance in Chennai. She was also a part of Mani Ratnam's stage show, Netru, Indru, Naalai. In 1994, Shobana founded Kalarpana. The aim of Kalarpana is to organize annual festivals throughout India. This will include performances of nationally and globally known artistes to help raise funds that will be ploughed back into training talented artistes who are financially insecure. Under its umbrella, Kalarpana extend its support to the handicapped and the environmental movement.
In 2006 January, the Indian government honored Shobana with Padma Shri title for her significant contributions to cinema and Bharatanatyam.
Deccan Chronicle, a leading south Indian daily, reported in its Chennai edition of 1st January, 2008 that Shobana is dating Rahul Nehra. Rahul had recently filed for divorce from his wife, Dr. Shalini Nehra, a Delhi based physician, and the mother of his two children. Shalini, who married Rahul in 1998, went on air with a popular Tamil TV channel, Sun TV, on January 8, 2007 with her lawyer and pleaded with her husband to abandon his divorce efforts and instead, return to his family. She also accused Shobana of interfering in her marriage and being the cause of her marital difficulties.
Shobana is yet to comment on the incident.