17 October 2017Last updated

Features | People

My Fabulous Friday: Shobana

Ahead of the Dubai premiere of her show Dancing Drums, the 46-year-old award-winning Indian actress and danseuse tells us of weekends spent as a bookworm and cinephile

Shreeja Raveendranathan
18 Oct 2016 | 03:24 pm
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My weekends start before daybreak, with teaching and rehearsing my productions. I normally wrap up by 8am. It’s an early start but that’s when the cast is usually free. Later I drive my daughter Anantha Narayani to her various classes, and visit friends. I am a professional dreamer so there is no need for me to take time off from work as it’s so pleasant. Dance keeps me fit, as does hanging out with the kids I teach.


I barely spend time with my family and when I do it is over a meal. My favourite cuisine is Thai or Chinese. I also quite enjoy the street food in Malaysia. When I’m travelling I prefer local cuisine as opposed to Indian food, which now is abundantly available all over.


I love reading when I’m done with rehearsals and teaching. Some of the books currently on my bedside table are The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, and Fragrance of Padams by Dr Pappu Venugopal. And I’m writing a foreword for a book on Ashtapadis (Indian hymns).


Chennai is home, but I love visiting Dubai. The city has a fantastic audience – eclectic, discerning and open to different artistic interpretations. When I’m performing here I do try to slip out to sightsee between preparations for the show.


I’m looking forward to watching Sully and Inferno. My favourite films are The Green Mile, Stalag 17 and my Malayalam film Thenmavin Komabathu. But my all-time favourite is The Bridges of Madison County – such sensitive acting by its lead actors.


I’ve had the opportunity to work with many actors but I’ll always have fond memories of working with Konkona Sen, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Prabhu and Radhika for the voiceover of my shows. I just had to sit back quietly and watch how magically they breathe life into my lines.


The last thing I splurged on was a pair of sunglasses because I looked better than I usually do with it on. I don’t spend much time following fashion and my fraying pink rubber slippers – the one pair of footwear I own – stand testimony to that!


Over the years I’ve held on to certain things simply because of their emotional value. For example, there’s a box of over 100 coloured pencils that no one is allowed to touch. Then there are a couple of costumes as they remind me of my time with my dance teacher. And my dad’s old cell phone, which is so ancient it now resembles a brick!


When it comes to designing clothes for my productions I do it myself. I find great fun in mixing and matching the odd colours with the Kanchipuram silks and the sequins. The costumes add to the communication of the script and so I do not get professional help. I love micro-managing these details.

Shreeja Raveendranathan

Shreeja Raveendranathan