Actor Raj Anadkat who is now playing the character of Tapu in TV's most popular comedy show, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, spoke to us recently. In an exclusive conversation, he shared details of his journey to bag Tapu's role, the day when he had to dance in front of 100 people to get selected and how his struggle didn't end at signing the role, as he received hate comments for months.
Excerpts from the conversation:
When was the first time you auditioned for Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah?
Five years back. I had gone for an audition at their Kandivali set. It was for playing Tapu's friend but I didn't get selected. I remember when I went their everyone including Daya, Jetha, Iyer, Dr. Hathi whole gang of Tapu Sena was present on the set. I was mesmerised seeing all of them together, after all it is such a famous show. But I didn't get the opportunity to go and click photos with them which made my mother really upset.
She asked me why didn't I speak to them and get photos clicked? So, maine Mom ko bola tha uss time, "aree don't worry, ek din tumhara beta unlogo ke saath kaam kar raha hoga." And here I am shooting with them.
Then the makers considered you to play Tapu after Bhavya left?
No, this time also when I was called for Tapu's character they didn't tell me that we are auditioning for his character. They just said we are calling you for a new character and in case you get short listed, we will call you back.
So, you auditioned again?
Yes, I gave so many auditions and around 8-10 look tests. I did a mock shoot with Tapu Sena. And then came the day when I was called on the set for a meeting. The club house you all see in the show, their whole cast, crew, creatives and the producer were present. All of them were starring at me like they knew I am the next Tapu but then nothing was told to me directly.
How did the meeting go?
They asked me Tum kya kar sakte ho? I said I can dance, I can sing and I remember I danced in front of 100 people and was so nervous at that time. They asked me to sing and then rap also. My heartbeats were strong at that time because I was doing all this in front of such popular faces. This whole procedure took almost one and half month.
Were your friends aware that you are auditioning for a popular show like TMKOC?
No, I used to hide it from my college friends. I always told them I have gone for some random audition as I really didn't know what was going on and if I will get selected or not.
And if you got rejected?
Honestly, mentally I was prepared for a rejection as its normal. All actors have that phase in their life when they get rejected. And I think there is always a good thing hidden behind your failure. Like if I would have got selected for Tapu's friend's role, 5 years back, I may have not got the opportunity to play Tapu.
Finally when did you come to know that it's you who is playing Tapu?
After one and a half month. You all won't believe but until the day I got finalised, I wasn't aware I will be replacing Bhavya. It was producer Asit Modi who himself informed me about the development.
Did you feel the pressure of replacing someone?
When I got finalised for Tapu's character, it was a big responsibility for me because I had to make sure that the audience's attachment does not break with Tapu's character. And I tried my best to give everything but it took almost a month to get that masti and then creating a bond with Daya, Jetha and Dadaji.
What kind of response did you get initially?
Audience gave me mixed reaction. There were people liking me but at the same time there were people who also said that he is not suiting the role and not acting properly. I used to receive hate comments on social media but I took that as a motivation to do better. But now I feel happy that they have accepted me. Today, when I step out people come to me and say good things about my character especially when my family is around. I simply feel superb.
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