Policing our TV screens

This actor is the face of the longest running television series. He is part of the Guinness Book of World Records. He is a name to reckon with in films, theatre and television. A powerhouse of talent, the best part about him is his down-to-earth, affable nature that endears you to him immediately. Meet Shivaji Satam aka ACP Pradyuman from Sony TV’s C.I.D. He may play a tough cop on screen, but is a great human being in real life with absolutely no airs of being a hugely popular star.

Shivaji Satam, who plays ACP Pradyuman on ‘C.I.D’.“Very honestly, I never chose to be an actor. Growing up in a middle class Maharashtrian family, I was influenced by the strong presence of Marathi theatre,” he says. The accomplished actor has three Indian Television Academy Awards for Best Actor as well as the Maharashtra State Best Actor Award for his performance in the Marathi film Ek Hoti Vadi, among several others. Theatre led him to television, where he landed a plum role in the serial Ek Shunya Shunya, directed by friend B P Singh.

What makes C.I.D so successful that even the likes of the legendary LataMangeshkar is a diehard fan? “Very honestly, many things work together. The four principal characters have remained the same and the premise is simple — a no-nonsense way to investigate crime. Also, each character has remained true to his  role and has never let the actor overpower the character being portrayed. Of course, we have always looked up to the men in uniform and I use some slight gestures, which may be larger than life, to enhance the situation. Another thing that has worked is that we shoot at real locations. The forensic department angle and how we show crimes being solved makes for interesting viewing. One thing B P Singh was clear about was that the show will never have any content that shows crimes against women and children, and that there would be no graphic representation of any crime,” explains Shivaji.

An episode of C.I.D that was completed in a single shot — in 111 minutes — finds mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. “I feel very proud that an Indian television show has set this record and I was part of it. It was a 98-page script. Twenty-two characters rehearsed a week in advance and managed to get it right in the first take. In fact, we had to shoot at dusk — a magic hour — and with over 100 technicians working, I feel that god himself helped us pull it off,” says Shivaji. There are also plans of making this hugely popular television series into a movie. Shivaji says, “I hope and pray that it does happen as we have been thinking and talking of it for over nine years now.”Having been a part of several mainstream Hindi movies like Vaastav, Ghulam-E-Mustafa, Yeshwant, China Gate, Taxi No. 9211, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hain, Hu Tu Tu among others, he has also acted in two English films directed by Dev Benegal — English August and Split Wide Open. He was also part of his son Abhijeet Satam’s Haapus, a Marathi film based on farmers engaged in the cultivation of haapus aamba (alphonso mangoes). 

“I am a simple person and have no major aspirations. I am committed to CID so much so that I can’t do many films that require me to give 50-60 days at a stretch,” he says. He has a soft corner for theatre. “I would love to go back to theatre as it gives you a high like no other because it is live and, as an actor, you are on the edge. It’s a beautiful relationship between the actor and the audience, where you cannot afford to make any mistakes.” 

It is often said that to be a good actor, it is important to be a good human being and Shivaji Satam exemplifies this perfectly.

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