Renowned for his character acting in Bollywood films, Thomas Beach Alter was an Indian-born actor of American descent. Born in Mussoorie on 22nd June 1950, Tom Alter worked as a teacher in Haryana where he spent most of his evenings at the cinema with friends, watching and nurturing his love for Hindi movies. Enamored by films, it was after watching ‘Aradhana’ that Tom decided he wanted to become an actor. He seized the first opportunity that came his way by enrolling into Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and graduated in 1974.
Alter’s journey in the movies began with the Dev-Anand starrer ‘Sahib Bahadur’and his first release was Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Charas.’ His conventional western features weren’t in tune with other Indian actors, yet Tom Alter’s love for Shayari and his flair for Urdu and Hindi language made him cherishable among the masses, earning him the ‘blue-eyed actor’ title.
Alter worked with prominent figures such as Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, and Raj Kapoor. He became a favorite for roles of British colonials, diplomats, and priests. He treasured each role and executed it with finesse, establishing himself with each role he played.
The audience had begun to appreciate Alter’s dedication and hard work towards films and his cinematic brilliance garnered him remarkable roles.
Some of Tom Alter’s acclaimed movie roles were in Ketan Mehta’s film ‘Sardar’, a 1993 film wherein he played Lord Mountbatten; in Satyajit Ray’s “Shatranj Ke Khiladi” as Captain Weston and in the Oscar-winning “Gandhi” (1982), in which Alter played the British doctor who whispers to Gandhi that his wife has died.
On the small screen, Alter’s most famed role was in the popular 1990s series, ‘Junoon’, where he essayed the role of mob boss Don Keshav Kalsi, a role which Alter describes as his best in front of the camera.
Tom Alter also had an exceptional list of theatre performances, his first one being Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Waiting for Godot’ followed by several popular ones like ‘Ghalib in Delhi’, where he essayed Mirza Ghalib’s role and in the solo play ‘Maulana’, based on Maulana Azad, for which he received critical acclaim.
On 29th September 1997, the Padma Shri winner succumbed to skin cancer and breathed his last.
Tom Alter’s contribution to Indian theatrics and cinema is widely remembered till date and in order to celebrate the late stage actor, on 22nd June 2018, what would’ve been Alter’s 68th birthday, Anjuman Taraqqi-e Urdu (Hind), New Delhi, will host an event ‘Baayad-e-Tom Alter.’ The event is an attempt to bring back to life the actor who has been a cinematic inspiration for millions of people. The event will be held at the Urdu Ghar Auditorium and is slated to begin at 6:30 pm.
The event will primarily consist of:-
- a 45 minute long documentary on Tom Alter’s life and works
- An hour-long tea time session and casual conversation with his fans and friends
While doing regular theatre in Delhi, Tom Alter was a favorite among the masses and had earned fans and friends in hundreds in the capital city. On the evening of 22nd June, they all will gather in the city to reminisce the actor and discuss what the departed soul loved to do during his Delhi sojourns, his life and career experiences and several other serious, interesting and insightful conversations about the late actor.
The documentary will showcase Tom Alter’s long-standing association with Urdu, Hindi and English Theatre; and also Delhi, as several of his theatrical works were premiered, and performed umpteen times, in the city.
This event will, therefore, be a rare occasion which will re-create the magic of Alter’s various avatars- be it Keshav Kalsi, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Ghalib or Maulana Azad, this event will be an essence of Alter’s various roles, giving us a vivid picture of his work.
So on 22nd June, all are invited to be a part of the commemoration of the glorious soul and actor that was, Tom Alter and to witness a discussion that’ll throw light on the multiple facets of the actor. If you are a fan of Tom Alter and appreciate artistic brilliance, this event is surely something to look out for!!!
The Venue for the event:
ANJUMAN TARAQQI URDU
HIND URDU GHAR, 212.
ROUSE AVENUE, NEAR ITO METRO STATION
D.D.U, MARG NEW DELHI. 110002
Time: June 22, Friday, 6:30 pm to 8:30 p.m.