‘I would like to perform a duet with Hrithik’

She is best remembered for her National Award winning performance as a ‘possessed’ woman whose angst ridden childhood catapults her into an imaginary world in Manichitrathazu.

By Ambica Sachin

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Published: Thu 8 Jan 2009, 10:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:29 PM

Her transformation into a revenge-seeking danseuse in the latter half of the Malayalam film had even classical dance naysayers riveted to their seats.

So it came as no surprise when actress Shobana decided to semi-retire from a successful stint on the silver screen to concentrate on her dancing school, Kalarpana, in Chennai, India.

Along with her troupe of dedicated students, Shobana has toured the world presenting a visual feast to fans of art all over. And now it is Dubai’s turn to be mesmerized by this spirited performer, as Shobana along with 20-30 of her senior students is set to perform her two-hour long dance ballet, Maya Ravan, here.

Speaking to City Times ahead of her show, Shobana comes across as a dedicated artist whose life revolves around her school.

“My fans can look forward to seeing me in a different roop (avataar) in Maya Ravan,” said the artist who has scripted, choreographed and directed the musical in English. “Fans of genuine art in Dubai can look forward to something very novel – which they haven’t seen before. Even those who are not fans of anything can come and have a really good time because Maya Ravan is not just about any particular dance form; it is about enjoying Indian art. It is a combination of Bharatanayam mudras (gestures), theatre and film songs – something that will appeal to all,” she explains.

So what prompted her to come up with this particular production? “It was basically done because I wanted to put in my background of films and theatre along with music - so it doesn’t belong to any particular genre,” explains the danseuse.

Ramayana revisited

For those who thought the Indian epic, Ramayana, was all about Rama, Shobana’s ballet is going to come as a revelation as the focus is on Ravan. But why the emphasis on the ‘villain’ of the piece?

“Why not,” is Shobana’s quiet but assertive query? “It was a challenge to play him. As an artist Ravan is an interesting character to play,” she points out. “Who knows, I may even play Sita in the next production.”

Other than Shobana’s performance, the musical has another highlight – the voiceovers have been done by prominent Indian actors like Naseerudin

Shah, Tabu, Milind Soman, Jackie Shroff, Revathy, Suhasini, etc. “When artists of this calibre lend their voices it raises a lot of publicity for the production,” says Shobana who was particular in her selection of actors to provide voice for each character.

“Naseer has taken Ravan to a new height and Milind - you can associate him with Ram – since he is more perfect in the way he looks. And he doesn’t have a very assertive kind of voice – it is soft which is what you’d expect from Ram. Tabu is Mandodhari and Suhasini has given the voice of Shurpanaka and Revathy has given the voice of Kaikeyi,” she explains.

With exquisite backdrop changes and spectacular costumes, again designed by Shobana, the reworking of the Ramayana, with Ravan as the protagonist promises to be a never-seen-before spectacle. “The best thing about Maya Ravan, is that it can be understood and appreciated by all kinds of people. It is almost like a movie,” enthuses the actress.

Art at heart

After a promising debut in a leading role in April 18 back in 1984, Shobana has appeared in many notable films. She even garnered a second National Award for her performance as a lonely expatriate wife in Revathi’s Mitr, My Friend. Her last silver screen outing was in Priyadarshan’s Mere Baap, Pehle Aap. But Shobana is quite clear about one thing: “I cannot do regular roles that are being offered to me nowadays. I have a school now and I can’t be a remote control teacher.”

Her dedication towards her art is even more apparent when she says: “It is not the money that we make at the end of the production that gives us the energy to perform. It is what we manage to conjure up and the feel of the audience- that gives us the strength to keep performing.”

But though the silver screen might not tempt her back easily, there is one person whom Shobana would like to perform with – Hrithik Roshan. “I love the way he dances. I won’t mind doing a duet with him,” she states when prodded as to whom she would like to perform with next.

News that Shobana has finally found love has been circulating for a while, but when we questioned her about it, all she would say was, “Would you like it if I asked about your personal life?”

Not that we would have minded trading our life story for hers….


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