President,PM expresses grief on the demise of actor Tom Alter

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Tom Alter
Tom Alter

PM expresses grief on the demise of actor Tom Alter

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed grief on the demise of Shri Tom Alter and recalled his contribution to the film world and theatre.  

The Prime Minister also extended condolences to the family and admirers of Shri Tom Alter.

 

Wiki Details about Tom Alter:

A native of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand,Tom Alter was the son of American Christian missionaries of English and Scottish ancestry and lived for years in Mumbai and the Himalayan hill station of Landour. His grandparents migrated to India from Ohio, United States in November 1916, when they arrived in Madras (now Chennai). From there, they went to Lahore by train, where they settled. His father was born in Sialkot, now in Pakistan.

After the Partition of India, his family too split into two; his grandparents remained in Pakistan while his parents moved to India. After living in Allahabad, Jabalpur and Saharanpur, they finally settled in Rajpur, Uttar Pradesh, a small town located between Dehradun and Mussoorie (in present-day Uttarakhand) in 1954. His elder sister, Martha Chen, has a PhD in South Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania and teaches at Harvard University. His brother John is a poet and a teacher.

As a child, Alter studied Hindi among other subjects in Mussoorie, consequently, he has occasionally been referred to as the “Blue-eyed saheb with impeccable Hindi.” He was educated in Mussoorie’s Woodstock School. His father taught history and English at the Christian college (E.C.C), Allahabad, and thereafter taught at a seminary in Saharanpur. In 1954, his parents started an ashram in Rajpur, called “Massihi Dhyaan Kendra” and they settled there. People of all religions came there for studies and discussions. They would initially recite biblical studies in Urdu and subsequently in Hindi (when Hindi was adopted in 1962).

At 18, Alter left for the US for higher education and studied at Yale for a year. However, he did not like the rigor of the studies at Yale and returned after a year. At the age of 19, Alter obtained work as a teacher, at St. Thomas School, Jagadhri, in Haryana. He worked here for six months, simultaneously coaching his students in cricket. Over the next two and a half years, Alter worked several jobs, teaching for a while at Woodstock School, Mussoorie, and working at a hospital in the US, and returning to India before continuing to work at Jagadhri. At Jagadhri, he began to watch Hindi films.

It was during this time that he saw the Hindi film Aradhana, a film that he and his friends liked so much that they saw it thrice in a week’s time. This viewing marked a turning point in Alter’s life and watching Rajesh Khanna’s and Sharmila Tagore’s acting attracted young Alter to films. He contemplated pursuing an acting career and mulled over this thought for two years, after which he headed to Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, where he studied acting from 1972 to 1974 under Roshan Taneja.

Alter acknowledged, in a 2009 interview, “I still dream of being Rajesh Khanna. For me, in the early 1970s, he was the only hero — romantic to the core, not larger than life, so Indian and real — he was my hero; the reason I came into films and he still is.”

In another interview, he said, “There was something very warm about Jagadhri. I remained a teacher there until the day I watched Rajesh Khanna romance Sharmila in Aradhana. That was the beginning of my addiction to the cinema.” He disclosed in 2017 interview that his major inspiration to act remains his idol Rajesh Khanna and quoted -“I came to Mumbai to become Rajesh Khanna; didn’t come to act on stage.”

He credits his accomplishments in acting to these two years at FTII, Roshan Taneja’s teaching there and interactions with other students including Naseeruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani and Shabana Azmi.

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