Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Urvashi Shobha

Urvashi Sobha's death anniversary falls on 16th of September 2008. She ended her life on same day in the year 1980. The story of Shobha is a saga of astounding professional success overshadowed by overwhelming personal insecurity and anguish. Shobha, whose real name was Mahalakshmi, was the daughter of actress Prema. Prema had acted in few Malayalam movies in the 60s, but could never make it to the top league. Her own failures had made Prema determined to make her daughter Mahalakshmi succeed where she had failed. Mahalakshmi went to work early; she acted as a child artiste in a few Malayalam and Tamil movies. Noteworthy among her Tamil movies as a child artiste was Chandrababu’s ‘thattungaL thirakkappadum’ (1966/Vishwabharathi) wherein Baby Mahalakshmi’s performance as the child Lakshmi won widespread praise, perhaps an initial indication of the greater laurels to come. And in Malayalam, Mahalakshmi, renamed as Baby Shobha stole the show in ‘udyOgasta’ (1967/Geetanjali) amidst the presence of veterans like Satyan, Prem Nazeer, Madhu, Sharada and Sukumari. She went on to act in few more Malayalam movies as a child artiste, before making her debut in an adult role in Balachandra Menon’s ‘utradaraatri’ (1978/Nangaserry Films). In a brief period (1978-1980), Shobha made a fetching mark in all the four southern languages, covering herself with glory by winning the coveted ‘urvashi’ award when she was just 19 years old. Shobha was a natural performer and essayed her roles with realistic simplicity. She exploded the myth that only arrestingly beautiful faces could make it big in films. She had an inexplicable charm, and a personality that exuded distinct elegance and charismatic innocence. A miraculous coalescence of endearing vulnerability and immense inner strength, Shobha graced the portals of South Indian cinema like none other. And in that incredible short span of time, she managed to walk away with the honours in exciting projects of exacting filmmakers; both venerable veterans of the craft and young torchbearers of experimental cinema found to their delight that this dusky petite woman’s shy smile was a facade that secreted an intense, smouldering persona, a powerhouse of unbridled talent blessed with an individualistic stamp of expression… Shobha’s Malayalam movies include Ekakini (1978), ulkatal (1978), Ormakal marikkiumO (1978), bandhanam (1978), entE neelaakaasam (1979), ‘daliya pookaL’ (1980) and ‘shalini entE koottukkaari’ (1980). Shobha won the Kerala Government’s Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance in K.S.Sethumadhavan’s ‘Ormakal marikkumO’ and the Best Actress Award the next year for her essay in Thoppil Bhasi’s ‘entE neelaakaasam’. In her short tryst with Malayalam cinema, Shobha earned the approbation of great masters like M.T.Vasudevan Nair, K.G.George and Sethumadhavan.