Tom Alter: I came to Mumbai to become Rajesh Khanna; didn’t come to act on stage

Updated on May 19, 2017 06:18 PM IST

Actor Tom Alter who recently acted in the play Once Upon a Time, says that while theatre is important for him, his passion lies in films.

Actor Tom Alter has 20 films, a web series and a TV show in the pipeline.
Actor Tom Alter has 20 films, a web series and a TV show in the pipeline.
Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

A regular performer in Delhi’s auditoriums, actor Tom Alter just can’t get enough of the city. “I’m in Delhi at least 10 days in a month… it’s fantastic to be here and I love to perform here,” says Alter, who recently acted in the play, Once Upon a Time, directed by Sujata Soni Bali.

However, despite his powerful performances on stage, theatre isn’t his first love.“I came to Bombay (Mumbai) to become Rajesh Khanna. I didn’t come to act on stage. Theatre isn’t secondary, but my passion lies in films,”” says Alter. The actor began his film career with Charas (1976) and then went on to do Shatranj Ki Khilari (1977), which garnered several awards, including a National Film Award for Best Feature Film.

Actor Tom Alter in the play, Once Upon a Time.
Actor Tom Alter in the play, Once Upon a Time.
Right now there are 20 films of mine which are ready to release. I don’t know when they will be released but they are ready.

Few months back when the news of the actor’s illness broke out, many thought that he will now slow his pace. In contrast, the actor is working in full swing, with an amputated thumb on his right hand. “All is well,” he says like a true showman, “I have never stopped in any direction – television, theatre, films… since ’74, non-stop! I have been doing so many things. Right now there are 20 films of mine which are ready to release. I have recently shot a powerful web series in Goa, and now about to start shooting a new film with Ram Gopal Varma.” says the 66-year-old.

I have been on television since it was invented… it’s just that I don’t publicise myself, so people don’t know.

And that’s not all! He is a regular on the tube, too. “I have been on television since it was invented… it’s just that I don’t publicise myself, so people don’t know. On Doordarshan I have done 3 shows, which ran for 5 years, and now I’m starting a new TV series called Chakravyuha.”

It’s been 41 years now and I have done every shade of character – good, bad and ugly in 400 films.

He has portrayed such a wide variety of characters on-screen and on stage that the question of him playing the white man in a Hindi film is now passé. “I came out of that character 40 years ago. In fact, I was never in that character…. In my very first film, Charas (1976), I played an Interpol officer who was [actor] Dharmendra’s boss. So, I have been doing major and very powerful characters since 1976, in 400 films.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Henna Rakheja writes on city, art and culture, for the daily Entertainment & Lifestyle supplement, HT City.

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