Sunday, May 26, 2024

In Conversation with Dayanand Shetty – television and film actor

Interviewed by – Robin Tyagi (Sub-editor)

Edited by – Robin Bhuyan (Editor in Chief) 

Written by – Nupur Jha 

Dayanand Chandrashekhar Shetty, a popular figure in Indian film and television, is best known for his role as Daya in the popular Indian cop TV serial CID. In 2018, he received the honor of induction into the Gold Awards Hall of Fame for his contribution to the longest-running police procedural television series.

A former sportsman turned actor, Daya has also delivered performances in movies such as Johnny Gaddaar, Runway, Singham Returns, and Govinda Naam Meera.

In a conversation with Enigmatic Horizon, Mr. Shetty shares a few insights into his personal life, his journey to becoming an actor, and the significant impact CID has had on his life. The actor also provides a glimpse into his upcoming projects and subtly hints at the possibility of a show or movie similar to CID.

How would you describe your journey in the industry so far?

It has been good. I didn’t face too many problems, and I’m grateful to God for that. I’ve been lucky in my career. Remembering what Amitabh Bachchan said, ‘Hum jaha khade hote hain line wahi se suru hoti hai,’ I realize that my life relates to that line. I am not a very ambitious person, so I didn’t feel any kind of letdown during my career. Life and career both have been good to me.

Had you initially planned to become an actor or did situation make you switch from sports to an entertainment career?

I never plan anything in life. After finishing college, my parents wanted me to take a decision. My father was into sports and was the weightlifting champion for 7 years in India. However, he never encouraged me to pursue a career in it because of the drawbacks and health issues that arise later in life. But I continued as an athlete but wasn’t able to pursue it for long due to my physical injuries. This is why I switched to acting; it was an unplanned action. I had no acting experience or training. After doing theater for a few days, I auditioned for CID and got the role. My journey with the show started in 1998 and ended in 2018.

Playing the role of Daya for 20 years, did you ever think it might negatively impact your career? Given that you portrayed a cop for such a long time, does it bother you that you get to play mostly cop roles?

It would have had a negative impact if I had big hopes for my career or wished to appear in more diverse roles. I never had those intentions. Every day was new for me, so I didn’t think much about what benefits my role would bring in the future. I think cop roles align with my personality. Nothing else mattered to me as long as the character had a significant role and impact.

How did you stay physically fit, coming from a sports background?

While doing CID, I used to lift weights and work out in the gym. But later, my schedule got really busy, shooting almost every day for 30-31 days consecutively. So, I didn’t have enough time or energy to do anything else. Whatever exercise I did happened on the set while filming. After CID ended in 2018, I started cycling and doing light exercises. Then, COVID-19 happened, and I continued exercising on the floor with whatever I could manage at home. Now, I’ve added more cycling to my routine.

Today’s young generation doesn’t seem to focus much on their health. Do you have any advice for them?

The problem is that everything has become substandard. Whatever we used to eat in the past, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian, was nutritious. Nowadays, too much information is available on the internet, about what to eat and what not to eat, which confuses young people. They are unsure if rice is healthy, whether carbs are beneficial, or if protein is good. According to our tradition, we should balance carbs and protein. Our food quality has also declined in the market. Lifestyles have changed, with people sleeping at odd times, which leads to stress becoming a significant factor.

Have you ever been injured while breaking a door or caused injury to someone else during a shooting?

Nothing major happened, but there was an ad shoot about 3 or 4 years ago. I had to shoot a scene where I was about to break a door. During the shoot, no one was supposed to stand behind it as it’s not safe. However, at that time, a character artist happened to be there. Unfortunately, he wasn’t informed about the impact that occurs during such scenes. The door fell on top of him, but fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

Few months back, we also interviewed Hrishikesh Pandey, your co-actor from CID. He shared how some people believed CID actors to be actual cops. Can you share such incidents from your life?

Certainly, such incidents tend to occur in real life, especially when people see you in the same role for 21 years. I recall that Mr. Shivaji Satam, who played the role of ACP Pradyuman, his son would ask him numerous questions and compare his father with his on-screen image. This made his father quite conscious, so he would call his wife before going home to check if his son was already asleep.

Another incident I remember involves an uncle and his niece who went to a police station, where the officials refused to co-operate. So, they approached me and told me about their situation. I had to explain that we were not real cops, so I couldn’t assist him in such matters.

Today, lots of memes about CID can be seen. Have you seen any, and what was your reaction?

Yes, I have seen a few. Initially, it was a bit annoying. However, we began to take it as a compliment eventually. Some jokes were fine, while others were a bit below the belt. But it is okay; everyone has their own opinion.

Your real-life name is the same as your character ‘Daya.’ Have you ever felt you should have changed the name for your character?

It was the director’s decision. They liked my name for the character, whether it was for CID or for Singham. My name suited the character, and I had no objections. Additionally, it benefits me because since it is my real name, and I can use it anywhere without worrying about any legal clauses.

You also acted in a few movies. How was your experience, and which was better: TV or movies?

Movies certainly have a bigger budget with more resources. However, no other experience in my life can be compared to CID. It was like a huge ship, and any other actor who was part of it would say the same thing. We had different producers, directors, and story writers, and so for 21 years, we enjoyed our work and the process. I had the chance to explore a lot with the show.

Recently, we received the sad news about the demise of your co-actor Dinesh Phadnis. You worked with him for a long time, and he was your co-actor. Would you share some experiences with him on the show?

Dinesh was close to all of us. He was a lovely man, and we all liked his style and sense of humor. We loved him, and needless to say, we will miss him a lot. His death was a shock for all of us.

As for experiences, there were many that happened in the 21 years that we worked together. He was always a part of whatever pranks or jokes we did on set. Dinesh had some of the funniest one-liners. Even after the show ended, we stayed in touch with one another and paid visits. His death was indeed unfortunate, but he will always be with us.

What are your future plans?

Recently, I did a Tulu film. We have also dubbed it in Kannada. Currently, there’s a Hindi movie in the works for OTT release, and I’ve completed a Marathi movie as well. Additionally, we have two films in pre-production. There’s also an upcoming cop-based show where you will see the cast of CID again.

You don’t come from any acting background. What would you suggest to newcomers who want to make a name for themselves in this field?

Be true to yourself. If you believe you can be an actor and you love acting, give it your best shot. You might not always get lead roles, but if you believe in your strength and ability, you should definitely try your luck. Also, if your friends or family are giving you advice, pay attention to that as well. It’s important to self-analyze before you leave your house and head to Mumbai.

Thank you. It was a pleasure chatting with you.

Thank you!

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