She has carved her own niche in the film industry in the South and juggled a career in dance. Meet actress Shobhana Chandrakumar Pillai, two-time National Award winner (Manichithrathazhu in 1993 and Mitr My Friend in 2002), who makes her debut in a Hindi film with Kaushik Roy's Apna Asmaan with Irrfan Khan, Anupam Kher and Rajat Kapoor.
It would be unreal to believe that she hasn't had Hindi movie offers before. What took so long, we ask the accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer. "I never really thought it was so important to work in Hindi movies.
"I have been very busy in the South and have had the opportunity to work on great films with the best directors. Moreover, my dance has always been very important to me," says the actor.
But the debut venture is exciting enough when she adds, "I also dubbed for my voice!" And that perhaps was possible because she plays a South Indian who lives in Mumbai in the Apna Asmaan.
Dance comes first
Dance has always been important for this niece of the Travancore sisters, Padmini, Lalitha and Ragini, who were outstanding classical dancers.
And it's keeping her occupied even now. "I am currently doing a huge programme across the US that will go on till October. It will be quite exhausting. I will make future plans after I return home. In fact, I'll have to miss the premiere of Apna Asmaan because of this show," she says.
The actress has been choosy chalking out the proper balance between mainstream and offbeat films.
Taking her time
What made her close in on Apna Asmaan? "As described by the director it is an urban, mainstream film. Most people would be able to relate to it, I feel," says the actress, who feels that the cast and story sum up the USP of the film.
"It's totally a new concept, quite unique actually," says Shobhana, who plays a mother to a child who's intellectually handicapped. The movie deals with her relationship with her son and her husband, played by Irrfan Khan.
Of her co-stars, Shobhana says, "Both Irrfan and Rajat were great actors to work with. They were very nice and helpful when it came to my Hindi. Of course, I knew Anupamji quite well."