The indefatigable Tom Alter on the several roles he has played, in life and on stage
A man of many shades, the blue-eyed thespian walked through a packed hall, rising with poise to the stage in front. Meet Tom Alter, who was in the Capital to play God in a theatrical play When God said Cheers recently.
“I’ve been doing theatre since 1979, but right now I’m doing about 20-odd plays which I keep doing around the country and internationally too,” says the 62-year-old actor, dressed in a casual brown jacket and a muffler thrown over carelessly. “Also, I’m directing two plays of my own by the name of Trisanga and Yadi – a play on Gandhiji,” he adds.
A native of Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, Tom is deeply rooted to India and is often referred to as the ‘blue-eyed sahib with impeccable Hindi’. “India is my home. I was never a stereotypical ‘white-man’ in real life. Whatever you are in real life eventually gets portrayed in your art. And when people realized that was not what I was, I got tremendous roles to play both in cinema and theatre,” he said. He has an affinity for Urdu poetry as well which is evident in his well-received plays – Maulana Azad and Mirza Ghalib.
Talking about Cheekha, his latest production where he plays the role of a monk, Tom says the film was one of the finest of his career. “Cheekha is a musical ballad, a story of a mysterious old man (Cheekha) who made erotic sounds for a prostitute, lying confined under the bed of the woman. A monk, played by me, travels from the Himalayas to unfold the secret life of the prostitute and her slave named Cheekha who could sing like a bird, hum like a bee and cry like a woman in the deepest throes of desires,” he says.
Having been awarded the Padma Shri about half-a decade back, the veteran actor, in the most unpretentious way; continues to investigate various aspects of life by touching upon arenas like history, culture and socio-economic issues through every role that he plays..
Busy writing books and penning scripts himself, Tom Alter believes in living his roles, as he lives life!