Family tradition: She's practicing medicine (well, TV medicine) after all


Those of us who have been rooted in one place might be awed by Reshma Shetty, one of the "Royal Pains" stars. She's English-turned-American, with Indian roots; she's pre-med turned opera singer turned actress. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

For many actors, doing a medical show
is like visiting a foreign country. They're speaking strange words,
doing odd things.

Then there's Reshma Shetty; for her,
“Royal Pains” is familiar turf. “I grew up surrounded by
doctors and patients,” she said.

For that matter, very little seems
foreign in her global life. Her family roots are in India, but she
grew up in Manchester, England and Richmond, Va.; next came Lexington
and Cincinnati and New York.

That's where she works on “Royal
Pains,” set amid the wealth and beauty of the Hamptons. With the
departure of co-star Jill Flint, Shetty's character has grown. “She's
become the third leg of HankMed.”

The company was set up by Dr. Hank
Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) and his brother Evan (Paolo Costanzo).
They're often feuding, leaving Divya Katdare, a physician's
assistant, in the middle.

That's Shetty, in a role that fits her
easily. The only question is why she chose the illogical profession
of acting. “I do come from a very logical family,” she said.

Back in Manchester, medicine was
omnipresent. “Doctors live on the hospital grounds,” she said.

Still, there was a flip side to this.
“In England, there wasn't much to do when you were younger. I could
go out back and imagine …. I would do plays by myself.”

The family moved to Richmond and Shetty
eventually was a pre-med major at James Madison University in
Virginia. Still, she won singing competitions, which cinched things.
She got a Master of Music degree from the University of Kentucky,
then went to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

Here she was in the prestigious school
that had Kathleen Battle, Al Hirt, Faith Prince and Broadway's best.
“My class only had 12 people in it,” Shetty said. “Some of them
would debut at the Metropolitan Opera. (But) Cincinnati was a place
for other arts, as well.”

So she acted and sang, then starred in
the touring production of “Bombay Dreams,” the musical produced
by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then came “Royal Pains” and a role that
keeps growing.

One plot element this season has had
Divya struggling with her wealthy parents. They didn't want her to
have a career; they wanted a pre-arranged marriage.

That seems to show up a lot in TV's
make-believe. “It's not as prevalent as people think,” said
Shetty.

In real life, she chose her own husband
(Deep Katdare, her “Bombay Dreams” co-star) and her career.
That's acting, where medicine feels kind of natural.

– “Royal Pains,” 9 p.m.
Wednesdays, USA Network, rerunning at midnight

– This week's episode (Aug.15) also
reruns at 10 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Aug.22.