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Can you recognise this sufi 'saint'?

UAE-based Indian tycoon does cameo in movie promoting communal harmony

  • Abu Dhabi-based Indian businessman Dr B.R. Shetty plays a sufi saint in the Kannada movie March 22Image Credit: Supplied
  • Dr. B.R. Shetty, founder and chairman of NMC Healthcare and chairman of UAE ExchangeImage Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: In the climax scene of the Kannada movie March 22, a sufi "saint" arrives in a drought-stricken village.

The villagers of different faiths are fighting over the rights to the last available source of water.

He assembles them through a song sequence and spreads the message of brotherly love and communal harmony.

The film ends with peace being restored in the village, thanks to the saint.

The "saint" in question is none other than one of the most dynamic business magnates in the UAE — Dr. B.R. Shetty.

As the founder and chairman of NMC Healthcare and chairman of UAE Exchange, Dr. Shetty is renowned for his prowess in the social and business scenes in the UAE and India.

The role came to him at a request from a friend, Harish Sherigar, who is also the producer of the film.

“I took it up because of the powerful message it conveys,” said Dr. Shetty. “The movie is a strong reminder that we can solve any problem that comes our way if we stick together and forget our differences.”

Meaningful message

Sherigar, who also runs a building material company in Dubai, approached Dr. Shetty for the role in July while he was on vacation in Karnataka.

According to him, the script demanded a person of great repute and stature to convey a meaningful message on screen and that he couldn’t think of anyone better than Dr. Shetty.

Dr. Shetty read the script and agreed immediately. The cameo took three hours to shoot and lasted about five minutes.

“I enjoyed playing the part of a peacekeeper who brings people of different faiths together,” said Dr Shetty.

March 22 also signifies World Water Day. The movie which released last month is getting rave reviews from critics and the public alike for the multiple themes it portrays, like communal harmony and water scarcity.

Roles of conviction

Acting is not a new avocation for Dr. Shetty. He has done many plays and skits during his school and college days, some of which have won him many accolades.

“I was mostly cast as a beautiful woman since I was very thin and fair,” he recalled.

“I loved doing such roles because of the challenge they offered.”

In 2011, he donned the mantle of legendary South Indian king Dharmaraja in another regional documentary set in Kerala.

Titled Travancore: A Saga of Benevolence it was a comprehensive narrative of the royal dynasty of the prominent South Indian kingdom of Travancore.

“I consider it a great blessing to have done that role. It conveys a strong message for the future generations about the sacrifice and history of a dynasty which has influenced the whole of South India,” he said.

The feature went on to receive the Kerala State Award for Best Documentary that year.

Dr. Shetty said that he would soon be seen in a documentary based on the journey of his life.


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