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Q&A: Reshma Shetty of 'Royal Pains'

Posted 11:37am on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011

For Reshma Shetty, one of the stars of USA's Royal Pains, her career path has traveled full circle. Shetty, who comes from a family of doctors, originally planned on a career in medicine. But during her pre-med years in college, she shifted gears to opera. Singing eventually led to acting and her first major television role, which just happens to be in an offbeat medical series. Shetty plays Divya, the physician assistant to Dr. Hank (Mark Feuerstein) and the business mind behind HankMed, the concierge medical practice to the ultra-rich. Shetty is quick to point out, however, that those pre-med studies haven't helped her all that much on Royal Pains, which wraps its second season at 8 p.m. CT Thursday, Feb. 24. "The medical jargon is not horribly difficult," she says. "But my least favorite scenes are the technically complicated medical scenes and doing these medical protocols in a very believable way. A few more years of studying medicine would have probably helped me more."

What were your expectations when you signed on as Divya? For example, did you know the show would delve so much into her arranged marriage and her feelings for another man?

"When I read for the role, the character breakdown was very different to who I am, except that it was for an Indian girl, which obviously I am. But it specifically said a very petite Indian woman. I'm 5-foot-7 and obviously not terribly petite in that sense. So I think when they cast me, their idea of who Divya was was already starting to go in a different direction. I really don't know if they had the marriage storyline in mind, because the very first few episodes were oriented around HankMed and getting HankMed started. But I think that's the deliciousness of the character. You find out what the actor's capabilities are and you can develop storylines that way. I hope I influence them. It's a fun storyline and something every ethnic woman faces: You're born in the West, but you are from the East and you don't know which way to turn sometimes."

Which of her two men do you think is better suited for Divya?

"I think they both hold something very interesting. Raj is obviously someone she has grown up with. She loves him deeply, but she's never really had a chance to know if she could love anybody else. He obviously has the family ties and he's a good man. That's why it's even more difficult, because he's so nice. But with Adam, she started to feel something that maybe she has never allowed herself to feel. She could possibly go for both guys. She could go for neither of them. You have to wait and see."

Is it true that some viewers have expressed a desire to have Divya and Evan, Hank's younger brother (played by Paulo Costanzo), pair off?

"People have actually — and I think surprising to most of us on the show — been drawn to the relationship between Evan and Divya. They definitely have chemistry. It's one of those chemistries that they both just kind of dislike each other, both kind of need each other and have started to bond. Sometimes it's negative, sometimes it's positive. I think that's why people enjoy it so much."

In what ways are you most like your character and how are you most unlike her?

"Let's see. How I'm different: I am nowhere near as fashionable as she is. I am nowhere near as put together as she is. She always has everything ready on the spot, very organized. I'm not that. I do not like high heels as much as she does. I am a New Yorker and I walk around a lot, so my best friends are my Uggs. What are the similarities? We are both very focused on our passions. We both have a capacity for generosity. I really like that aspect of her. I feel she always cares for her patients. She's always there for them. And we both like chocolate."

What do you think of your character's extraordinary fashion sense?

"I do get to wear a lot of the top designers, any that you can think of, from Catherine Malandrino to the Prada to Steve Madden. I don't think that fashion necessarily has to be high end. Although, for Divya, because she's a Hamptonite and she's obviously from a wealthy, wealthy family, they do tend to go on the very high end. I mean, all of the shoes that you see me wearing on the show are over $500 usually. That just gives you an idea of some of the stuff she gets to frolic in."

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