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Swapnil Shetkar, Changing the face of Goan film industry

Swapnil Shetkar is a young and enterprising Producer / Director who made one of the Goa’s most talked about flicks, Home Sweet Home. This
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Swapnil Shetkar is a young and enterprising Producer / Director who made one of the Goa’s most talked about flicks, Home Sweet Home. This movie changed the entire perception of Goan Cinema lovers. The new era of Goan film began with this film. After the success of first part Swapnil dared to do the second part and this was perhaps the first time in the history of Goan film industry where the sequel of the movie was made.

Swapnil’s entry into the movie making world was the part of his childhood dream. He had a very keen interest into the theater from his childhood. He used to participate in the one-act plays and while doing that he came in contact with the people from the film fraternity of Goa which was almost on the verge of dying. Goa had not much scope into movie making then except few tried their luck into this industry but nothing much turned out.

Swapnil, while he was in his teenage, got involved into the filmmaking process “When I was just 14-year-old I used to accompany the group of short filmmakers to see what the filmmaking is all about. The camera, the set, and director, actors, all these things used to magnetize me a lot. That is the reason despite being the science student I opted for the arts,” said Swapnil. After joining the arts, he started experimenting more with the acting. Goa is one of the major destinations for the filmmakers from all around the world. Every day invariably someone or the other shoots at some locations in Goa. Swapnil used to keep the track of it and always tried to be a part of those shoots. According to Swapnil, he was ready to work into anything from spot boy to extra as he never made any discretion. “Goa does not have film school and going out of Goa and learning filmmaking was not possible for me at that time for the various reasons. Hence, I decided to work with the Goan filmmakers and learn from them and I joined the famous producer and director Rajendra Talak as an assistant for one of his film projects Working for Talak was the big leap for my career. It was the big setup. I was working as a production boy handling the logistics,” narrated Swapnil.

According to Swapnil, Rajendra Talak was the very cooperative person and he used to inspire Swapnil to learn filmmaking. Working with Talak amounted into gaining a lot of experience for him. He learned quite a few things of filmmaking from Talak and then started making his own short films. “Then when I was in my first year of college and that time there were only two HD Cameras in Goa the one was with the Doorsarshan and second I brought. It was due to one project I was promised by one of my mentor which never took off due to some reason,” explained Swapnil

That first camera Swapnil had brought with the help of his mother who took the loan from the bank. But destiny had something else in its kitty for Swapnil. That project did not start and Swapnil left with the camera and a big loan at his disposal. “I was told that he is unable to pay me and that came to me like a big shock. I had no resource to recover the money I had put into that expensive camera,” said Swapnil.

Swapnil Shetkar

It was the big setback to Swapnil but he did not give up. He decided to start doing the video shooting for weddings and celebrations of birthday parties just to pay back the loan installments which were mounting day by day. “At the time, I was unaware as how much people charge for the video shoots for weddings and parties. I started charging the minimal amount for my work. This was in spite of putting the expensive HD camera to the task. At that time I was very young and I did not realize my shortcomings but luckily I received few projects of documentaries, short films, music videos and Ad films which helped me to recover my invested capital,” said Swapnil.

According to Swapnil, the major twist came into his life when he was hardly 19 years old. “I was just 19 then and was watching the drama called “Suring” which was written by Pundalik Naik. Suddenly one idea flashed into my head. I knew most of the actors from that drama so I decided to propose the idea of making the film out of this drama. I told them that I have a big camera and to work with me to make this film. The condition was that all the artists will work for free. I received the positive response from them and this way my first project kick-started,” said Swapnil.

Although Swapnil told them about the filmmaking but he had no experience into the production. He had no filmmaking knowledge. They didn’t know how to choose the locations and where to shoot. “So the first thing we did is we went to the writer of the play and to our surprise he agreed to be a part of this project but only on one condition that we will make the film properly and not for any sort of experimentation,” said Swapnil.

After accepting the challenge of doing the film, Swapnil started searching for the producers and financiers. He also had accumulated some funds from his work in various projects such as direction, acting and his involvement into the projects of Talak. Swapnil started the work on his first project. “We finalized everything from locations to the artists and screenplay and began with the shooting. We erected the set on the location, we finalized for the shoot but to my bad luck I did not avail the permissions for the shoot as per the guidelines,” said Swapnil.

The troubles were not finished for Swapnil yet. He had bigger challenges waiting in front of him to be taken care of. The first problem he faced was the location. The shooting was stopped within just four days of its commencement and the reason has people had filed the complaint against them for shooting in the Comunidade land without obtaining the necessary permissions. Another thing Swapnil had to face was the draining down of the funds. “I could not manage to provide even the breakfast to the artists since I was left with no funds. The project stopped. I went to all my sources, to the people I worked with, to private financiers and even ESG office but nobody helped me,” explained Swapnil.

The challenges in front of Swapnil were not yet over. For almost two years he was struggling to get finance arranged to restart the shoot. Finally, God heard his prayers and he got his financer. “It was my Guru-Bandhu, Mr. Hemant Malvankar of Prince Furniture who finally agreed to finance my project. One of my Uncle Harshad Sethia also came forward to help me with the funding and after the gap of almost two years, the project re-started in full swing. The “Suring” was completed and screened at IFFI. We received few awards too and it was my first feature film as director,” said Swapnil proudly.

The “Suring” was never released in the theaters. “According to me it was not that good but it was my first movie and I learned a lot from it,” said Swapnil. According to him, one has to go through a lot of struggle to achieve something. When something comes to you easily you do not have the value for it. “I received the lot of fame and recognition from IFFI. People started recognizing me and my work. Many producers also started approaching me for their upcoming movies,” said Swapnil.

Swapnil mentioned that the producers of the movie “Nirmon” had initially approached him but then due to some differences he did not go ahead with that project. “It was sort of a setback to my career since the entire film fraternity of Goa was aware that I am doing that movie and a sudden change in the plan brought little depression to me and for almost three months I was mentally disturbed,” said Swapnil.

Since Swapnil was not doing the Nirmon anymore he was just upset and was not feeling like doing anything. “I was at home only discussing the future plans with my uncle. Finally, in the month of June 2014, I was just sitting and talking to my friends about the future projects. One of them was the music director of Home Sweet Home and second was the Art directors Rohan Naik and Sudesh Gaonkar. We were just discussing what can be done now. I just wanted to let go the past and come up with something new. At that time, one of my friends just joined us and started talking about the special status, government policies about the people of Goa and the people who have left aboard when they come back their properties had been swallowed by the land mafias. This was the birth of the concept “Home Sweet Home” which later converted into one of the most successful Konkani movies that ever made in Goa,” said Swapnil.

According to Swapnil, he started thinking deeply over the concept. He had no story. “We met again the following week to brainstorm over this subject. I explained the ideas and narrated the storyline to them which they liked. We anonymously finalized that we are doing this project and after a month we were ready with the script. Ramprasad Adpaikar and Sai Panandikar started working on the script and dialogues. The work on music also started. Basically, whatever we could do without putting money into we started doing that. Everybody was worried about the funding but I had a gut feeling that I am going to do this movie, but I didn’t know how,” said Swapnil.

Swapnil made the plans to release the movie on December 26 without even starting the shoot. He had no funds till 10th October and the shoot commenced on 18th October, “Whatever savings we had and whatever assets we could mortgage we did, me and my partner Madhav Gad formed a company. We raised the loan putting all the assets like car, jewelry we had. The funds were never sufficient and we had to mortgage the properties to raise more funds. But still the amount was not sufficient to make a film. I started asking around for finance but no one had a faith in the Goan films and nobody was interested in investing,” said Swapnil.


Home sweet home 1

Swapnil did not give up the hope. He approached some brands for funding in return of promotion and by the time loans from the banks were also released just two days before the shoot. “Shoot started on 18th October and finished on 3rd November. Actors gave their best. On 27th at IFFI, we released our trailer and did the music launch and finally as decided the movie was released on 26th of December in the theaters. According to me it was whole 3 months of the lifetime experience for everyone at the unit,” said Swapnil.

According to Swapnil, there is huge scope for the Goan in this industry. There were many good movies been made but they were not marketed well. “The Movies like Paltadcho Munis, Baga Beach, O Maria are of very good standard. People like the films that relate to them in their day to day life,” said Swapnil.

Swapnil feels that the Home Sweet Home did well on the box office in 3 months time with 650 shows, “But we still couldn’t recover the money we invested into the project. The major reason behind that was the unavailability of theaters for screening. The policies need to be changed for the screening of Goan films. We cannot recover the fraction of invested amount if we released the movie on local channels. If the filmmakers do not recover the money how they will come forward to invest more and give good movies to the people,” asked Swapnil.

Swapnil said that he did the second part only since he had promised the audience as the first part left with many unanswered questions “Our audience started asking us as what happened next? Where John and Raj went? The only answer to these were making of the second part and we did it,” said Swapnil.

According to Swapnil the sequel is doing better and this time, the money will be recovered. He is presently working on the two new projects which according to him is based on completely new ideas. “What I feel is that doing a good movie for Goans is my prime motive at the moment. Home Sweet Home had a maximum number of Goans in the cast and crew and I am looking forward to promoting the Goan talent. I am also in the process of helping the setting up of the proper film industry in Goa. I have the support of the group of people from the Goan film fraternity. We need the help of Goa government too,” said Swapnil.

Swapnil believes that there is a huge scope in Goa if one has the talent and a will power than he or she can achieve the success. Money is not everything but money is very important too. One can make good movies without the money but sometimes lots of money also can’t make a good film. It is only your hard work and passion that will give results. One must love what they are doing and that is the only secret,” Swapnil concluded with this message.

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