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Remembering Tom Alter: Here’s a tribute to the master of the stage

On the demise of actor and theatre personality Tom Alter, eminent personalities pay their respects.

art and culture Updated: Sep 30, 2017 16:50 IST
Nikita Saxena
Nikita Saxena
Hindustan Times
Tom Alter,Theatre,M Sayeed Alam
Actor Tom Alter passed away on Friday night due to skin cancer relapse.(Shakti Yadav)

The news of actor and theatre personality Tom Alter’s death on Friday night due to skin cancer, left many saddened in the Capital’s theatre circuit. The actor, who was a regular on the stage in Delhi had worked in various plays, some of which include Maulana, Ghalib and Dr Khanna.

The 67-year-old, who was born in Mussoorie, was an Indian of American descent. Apart from theatre, he worked in various Bollywood films such as Parinda, Sardar and Aashiqui. We spoke to eminent personalities from various fields who’ve worked with him or have known him personally.

M Sayeed Alam, playwright and director

M Sayeed Alam and Tom Alter had worked together several times. ( Manoj Verma )

“His death is a huge personal and professional loss for me. He was a fine actor, but more than that, he was a father figure and guide to me. I had been working with him till a few days ago, before his health started deteriorating rapidly. And now, even though I have a play scheduled for tomorrow, it will happen as per schedule. Warna woh bura maan jayenge, such was his true showman spirit.”

Ganesh Saili, author and photographer

Ganesh Saili and Tom Alter, both hail from Mussoorie.

“His felicity with the language stunned everyone. You could never tell that here was an American talking so fluently in Hindi or Urdu. There was no trace of an accent. I had photographed his wedding at Char Dukaan near Saint Paul’s Church in Mussoorie. I still am reminded of how agar cricket chal raha hota tha aas paas, toh woh sab kaam chhod ke khelne chala jaata tha. This is a great loss for me.”

Lillete Dubey, actor

Lillete Dubey calls Alter a ‘thorough gentleman.’

“It is very sad that I never got to work with him. But from what I know of him personally, he was a thorough gentleman with a great sense of humour, and I have always been an admirer of his work. Of the many things admirable about him, one was his diction of Hindi and Urdu. You couldn’t tell that he was of American descent; he was more Indian than any of us. Another thing that was admirable about him was that we was a very compassionate man who never did anything for money, he only wanted to help people. And he was very passionate about theatre. He continued working till he could.”

Arvind Gaur, theatre director

Arvind Gaur calls Alter humble and grounded. ( Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times )

“Not only in the fields of theatre and cinema, but he was a great man personally too — very humble and grounded. My association with him was about 20 years long, and for as long as I knew him, he would always talk of theatre.
I would say that despite all the movies he has worked in, he was more of a theatre person. Not only has he performed in several plays, he did a lot of solo shows too. Of these, my favourite is Maulana. And there was always so much to learn from him — from his attention to detail in plays to how he would totally immerse himself in his characters. Not only is this a huge loss for the world of theatre, but it’s a huge loss for me personally as well.”

Inputs by: Henna Rakheja

First Published: Sep 30, 2017 16:50 IST