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Updated: January 20, 2010 18:50 IST

A stage called life

A. P. s. Malhotra
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Actor Tom Alter is busy with theatre these days. Photo: Anu Pushkarna.
The Hindu Actor Tom Alter is busy with theatre these days. Photo: Anu Pushkarna.

Tom Alter talks about his upcoming theatrical venture

“These days, it is theatre that keeps me occupied,” says Tom Alter, the veteran who wears many hats over his blonde hair. Talking over a cup of coffee in the cosy confines of his room at the India International Centre, a relaxed Alter says, “I am in Delhi to perform a historical play based on the life of Raja Nahar, ruler of the princely state of Ballabgarh who was tried by the British for his role in the 1857 Uprising.” Elaborating, he adds, “I am a scheming judge in the play, who sits on the trial that falsely implicates the Raja.”

As for the reason for his prolonged absence from the big screen, the actor who speaks impeccable Urdu with a pure Awadhi accent confides, “Though I am working on a few films, they are in different stages of completion.” On which films have managed to garner his interest in the last few years, Tom lists A Wednesday, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Omkara as his favourites, and “Pankaj Kapoor, Om Puri and Paresh Rawal are actors I admire most; in fact, Paresh, with whom I have worked in Sardar, is awesome.”

Changing TV ethos

Sharing his views about television, Alter rues, “The rules of the game have changed over the last 15 years, due to which actors like me find it difficult to adjust in the new environment.” But he does speak effusively about Jury, the only serial featuring him on air currently.

“In this serial we reargue prominent court trials of the freedom struggle and see how the outcome would have been in the present circumstances,” says Alter, adding, “The episodes have been worked on in great detail, and the one on Bhagat Singh ran for 16 episodes. The other prominent cases featured pertain to Chauri Chaura, the Manipur Conspiracy Case (1894) and Kakori amongst others.”

Alter, who confides to enjoying book reading sessions and occasional compeering, says, “My next novel is being published by Harper Collins and will be launched in the next six months; also, my first novel, ‘Rerun at Realto', is being republished by Harper.”

Alter notes that though he was a sports journalist for 16 years, he has withdrawn from the arena of late, as he “cannot match the demands” of channels featuring sports programmes.

“Moreover, I am busy with pre-production of my next play, ‘Bring Down The Walls', produced by I Dream Theater repertoire; it will have its first performance in Delhi in March,” says Alter enthusiastically. “I have worked with this group earlier in ‘City of Djinns', that ran successfully for 16 shows in Delhi to packed houses. For ‘Bring Down the Walls', we are trying a new concept of concert theatre, akin to Broadway musicals, and will be using licensed music of the path-breaking Pink Floyd album The Wall.”

Describing the new initiative further, Alter says, “Our aim is to integrate the magic of theatre with the spectacle of concert, using live band and live singing to provide a wholesome experience. The play is based on an original story by Dr. Amrish Satwik and is scripted by Manish Srivastava, a protégé of Ram Gopal Varma, and I play one of the seven characters — a man from the '70s”.

Keeping the main plot close to his chest, Alter explains, “The aim is to highlight contemporary issues like the concept of death, same-sex relationships, racial discrimination and artistic freedom through this play that will be directed by N. Kumar.”

If his record is anything to go by, Alter sure has a winner on the cards — something theatre aficionados in Delhi can look forward to.

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