Those come hither looks might just unsettle her opponents but karateka and actor Sandhya Shetty seems to be juggling her many careers with equal parts of fortitude and inspiration
Her poise and concentration when she sets out to obliterate her opponent is as admirable as her utmost panache as she sashays down the ramp. Yes, Sandhya Shetty seems adept at changing perceptions of women by — on the one hand being the ultimate opponent, and then on the other, being a suave and sexy model and actress. And she does seem all the more wiser and proficient because of the multitasking she thrives on. This gold medalist at the eight edition of the Commonwealth Karate Championship 2015 (minus 68 kg kumite) is a Karateka who hopes to take her medal tally from national and state to international heights, and is right now preparing for the US Open in March next year.
Model, actor, TV host, she takes the moniker beauty with brains, and slamdunks it with oodles of talent. One of the finalist of the Miss India 2000 says. “My life has come full circle and I can only say WOW. At the Commonwealth, my first round was with a Sri Lankan girl and the final clincher was with a New Zealander — who are extremely fit and have such great fitness ethics, I was ready and felt it deep down that it was going to be a gold. I kept my focus and trained hard, did stretches and on the day of the fight, I was sure,” says the champ.
She is not a feminist but wants to see women enrich themselves, “I hope women as a power in India grow — their progress seems very superficial today, women need to grow intrinsically and in all fields,” she believes. Sandhya comes from a simple south Indian family, and her family runs “typical Shetty” restaurants in Andheri, Kurla and Ghatkopar in Mumbai, “There’s mum, dad, my brother and his family and I live with them. My parents are my idols, there are simple folk who are hard working and I have taken great strength and lessons from them. The grounding they have given me keeps me in good stead,” says the pretty girl with a black belt in Karate’s Gojuryu style.
She once hoped to be an Army officer or a lawyer. Now, she looks back with chagrin at how her many careers have arisen, “My life had been about modelling and acting, but I have also been a sports person since childhood — I played volleyball, state level kabadi, represented the NCC Army wing, as the Indian young ambassador, then Miss India happened and fashion and modelling also came side by side,” says the girl who has been practicing Karate for 13 years now.
What’s credible about Sandhya is that she pursued karate on her own - even funded it. “Once a fighter, always a fighter,” declares the gorgeous lass. She just finished filming for Wok Ek Mulakat, an adventure-cum-drama and while she can’t divulge more, she pipes, “I have many projects — infact, I am doing a very interesting project, and shooting is slotted for month-end, but since I have not signed on the dotted line, that is all I can share. I want to do substancial movies as I am not here just for the heck of it.”
The girl who takes on opponents with élan in the karate ring was also a Discovery Channel travel show host. “I love acting and am also very creative. Bollywood was an idea I initially toyed with, and now I want to take it further. I dance and do my own choreography and when my stylist is not, I style myself too,” grins the powerhouse. A bit of interior designing for friends’ homes, she also wants to groom people as a career.
Behind this beauty are the scars of battle too. “I have had multiple injuries, broken a leg and had a hairline fracture, broke my nose too,” she reveals, and it seems hard to imagine this attractive girl putting on her battle face. “My best moment in life has to be when I stood on the podium and won the medal for India. It was such a personal and wonderful moment,” she adds.
So how did karate happen? “I joined karate as a hobby and as self-defence. I even gave up many assignments to represent the country. I have always been the man (tom-boy) of the house,” Sandhya smiles, adding, “There is so much hard work that goes into karate — gymming, cycling and functional training, sensei (coach), was the one who honed my talent. He is currently the president of the Maharashtra Karate Association and was among the best fighters we had, he is also a world recognised referee. I also have a close friend Kaushik Shrimanker, a karate enthusiast who keeps me motivated.”
Time management and juggling various careers seems to definitely be her forte and she reveals that marriage is not a priority now, but she strongly believes in auras and energies. And hopes that they will take her forward.
Favourite destination: Canada, where I spent three months in the countryside and it was fascinating, shopping in Dubai and of course London as its fashionable. In India, Mangalore and Kerala because of their earthiness and beauty.
Idols: I don’t have idols, but I respect Youth Purush Big B immensely because he is so knowledgeable, is so talented and has conducted himself with such dignity.