A small-town village boy coming from a village called Loliem in Canacona, Tapan Acharya’s story is different from the usual children. While most other parents encouraged their children to become doctors or engineers, Tapan’s father was more aware of his son’s potential. He wanted his son to become an actor. Now isn’t that a kind of father you would like to have! Only when your roots are firmly embedded in the ground can you rise high and beyond. Well, Tapan’s parents supported his passion, and he strongly believes he couldn’t have managed as much as he has today without the strong fatherly force urging him to go for it.
The son of such eclectic parents, Tapan is a Goan loved for his acting. He is not just a well-known actor, but also an accomplished producer. But that wasn’t his initial calling. “I didn’t want to become an actor, I had my mind on filmmaking and producing; I wanted to do business. But my father was after me, he wanted me to become an actor because he knew I had it in me. While he persuaded me to take arts, I said I wanted to take science to become an engineer. He was against my decision, so finally, we settled for BCom.”
But acting was in Tapan’s blood, and with such a supportive father, nothing could have stopped him from acting, not even the Board examinations. Tapan smilingly recalled, “One of my teachers from school wanted me to act in a one-act play in Kala Academy. He said he had full faith in me but was uncertain about my father’s reaction. So he went to ask my father. My father asked me when my board exams were, and I said they were in 15 days. He turned towards my teacher and assured him I would act! My mother was furious for letting my father make this decision for me. But my father somehow knew me, he had full faith that I would score well in my boards.”
During his college days, Tapan interned at an Ad agency and quickly rose to become an Assistant Director. But the turning point in his life came much later. “I came to Goa to take my passport and my father learned that I wanted to return back to my work. He told to me to pursue my graduation and take up the law so that I had a backup. During that time, I approached Chandrakant, the Station Head Director of Doordarshan, and told him I had a concept in mind for a reality show.” Tapan said.
“They already had one show running but he wanted to know what my idea was about. I said it was for a reality show on dance and music. He agreed instantly! But on one condition, that I should host the show. That was the first turning point in my life, and since then people started recognizing me as an actor. This is also the time when ‘It’s my life’ shooting was going on with Varsha Usgaonkar, which was unreleased.”
From his first project with a reality show in 2003, he went on to play the lead role in Rajendra Talak’s ‘Alisha’ which went on to become an award-winning film. Although most people know him as an actor, he has taken great strides as a producer as well. “I bagged the Dada Saheb Phalke award for best producer and best debutant producer award,” Tapan said, adding “In 2006 came Padri, Rin te Farikponache, Aiche Kudnem followed by Janm which was produced by me, which secured 38 nominations.” Revenue problems never pulled him down. “When we didn’t make much revenue out of it, Manish Mandrekar was all fluxed up, but he knew all the screens that would be worth for screening the show. We found over 100 screens, screened the film and recovered the film” he explained.
Tapan was often divided between acting and film production, but his heart lay in Productions. Describing the juggling of these two professions and his movement between Mumbai and Goa, Tapan said, “Since I got busy in Mumbai with Doordarshan production, I had to leave the job here. I could not come to Goa for some time and whenever I came it would be just for 2-3 days. Filming for Martin was a concrete plan that I had agreed to. So I could not do Que Sera Sera because it was clashing with Martin, and I told Rajesh Pednekar that I wouldn’t be able to do the film. Nevertheless, he asked my help with his production work as he was producing his film for the first time.”
But Tapan’s second innings in the Konkani industry came with Severino and Rajesh Fernandes. He recounted, “One fine day Severino and Rajesh Fernandes come with an offer for Planning, Devachem. At the same time Jeetu came with a role, he told me he wanted only a few days with me and then it would be done. I told them I was inclined towards producing and I kept asking them if they want any help with productions. They said – ‘We want you for acting’. And that was it!”
Having taken up on the offer, the question was again about the revenue. Speaking about his movie Planning, Devachem Tapan said, “In January we prepared the platform for Planning, Devachem in foreign countries. The irony in Goa was that until and unless ‘Juze’ was released, other films would be on a standstill. If you want to make a good quality film you need to recover the money you invested. We have limited screens in Goa and if we want to generate money then it is not possible here because Goa has 6 screens. If we produced the film in Karnataka or Maharashtra, we would get 14-15 screens from where we could recover the money. Apart from that, foreign countries have a good turnout at film screenings and we not only recover but we also make profitable revenue. If in Goa we make 25 lakhs, we can make triple the amount abroad. Also in terms of crowd, we see 3% of Goans in theatres while in the Gulf the crowd comes to almost 70%. In recent times, however, with the help of digitalization, we have had success.”
Tapan is a man with a vision. He believes that the period of ‘saas-bahu’ serials has gone and that of 16 inches LED TVs will also fade away as more and more people are choosing to watch web series on their phones. Tapan affirms, “People have changed; the urban class wants something innovative hence we work our best to satisfy our audience.” Tapan is also a man of action. Outlining his future endeavours he said, “As a producer, I am working on 2 programmes which will air on Doordarshan. I am also looking out to start a web series very soon. We have begun the work and are waiting for approval. The web series that we are going to start will have Goan links but it will be in Hindi and English languages.”
Tapan believes one has to be unique in their field. When asked what message he would like to give to the younger generation seeking to make a career in the entertainment industry he said, “Besides acting and directing, one can look into the different aspect of filmmaking like animation and graphics too. A film is a form of storytelling, and our culture is very rich, to begin with. With growing times we have to grow according to the technological advancements. Cinema can help spread the folklore of the place. I have learnt different languages by watching different movies like those of Punjabi, Telugu, Malayalam, and so on. Media and cinema are sensible forms to inculcate the language of Konkani among the Goans who speak Konkani and keep alive the rich Goan culture.”
It is a competitive world out there, and no matter what your background, to make your mark you have to prove yourself. Tapan was faced with such an opportunity after college. “During my college, I took BCom in advertising and marketing. I took up advertising to fool around and because it seemed simple. For this course, we were asked to intern in different established advertising agencies. I got myself into one and started to intern as a copywriter. Being an intern I was always hushed away and looked down upon by the professionals. But it did not stop me from sharing my ideas. It was an ad frame of 30 seconds. I interrupted their ad by giving them ideas like taking multiple shots, mirror imaging and all sorts of things. My idea to take shots from different angles etc impressed the director. In the beginning, they were reluctant to take up the ideas but later when they saw the advertisement going well in the market, they decided to keep me. After that, I got promoted to the post of an Assistant Director for which I received 1,500 rupees as salary.”
Every parent dreams something for his child, and so did Tapan’s father. Recalling the time Tapan disclosed his promotion to his father Tapan said, “I told my father that I had got the job of an Assistant Director but father was unhappy. I sent him a newspaper cutting of Hrithik Roshan who once worked as an Assistant Director and then rose to fame after some years to become the superstar of Bollywood. I wanted to tell my father that in this way I would reach my destination too. I convinced my father, took permission from the Principal in Damodar College and continued my work first as an Assistant Director, then Clampboy and finally Casting Director. I achieved all the verticals within 3 months.”
Tapan’s skills spoke for themselves. His steady rise to Casting Director within three months showed his enormous potential. No wonder he has carved a niche for himself within the entertainment industry so quickly. He has worked in Bollywood as well as in the Konkani film industry, in multiple fields, thus having assimilated enormous experience. When asked about his views on the Goan film industry, Tapan said, “First of all the industry should evolve. They should go to the next level as digitalization. But the problem here is – who is going to take responsibility? Will it be the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) or the Art and Culture department? Secondly, even if we make it digital, will the content be good enough to make it into a web series? Because Web series give importance to the content we can’t just have few shots of John D’Silva doing some comedy. If things are sorted out well within the industry then we may be able to reach the mark.”
Tapan asserted that for production to sustain, the team has to be kept together. If the team falls apart then the creativity is lost. He doesn’t want to step into Private channels; the reason for which he explained thus, “If I have a big project I can look after that and outsource my earlier work and my team can look after Doordarshan. Thus to keep things intact I am focusing on Doordarshan now because I find it safe.” He is banking on his strong point, which is Productions. “I would like to be in my comfort zone as of now. I am working in a Marathi film called Dil Dosti and Deewangi and I am also the co-producer for the same. For now, the shooting of this movie is kept on hold because one of the actresses is competing in Big Boss Marathi.”
It is no wonder that he has reached the level he is at today. A man who can stand strong alone, as well as believes in teamwork, and with skills such as his, is bound to go places.