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Effortless genius

Effortless genius

The demise of veteran theatre, television, and film actor Tom Alter, leaves a void. Best known for his stellar performances in "Shatranj Ke Khilari", "Junoon", and "Kranti", he passed away on Friday night after waging a grim battle with stage four skin cancer. Alter's last rites were performed Saturday afternoon at Worli crematorium. An Indian actor of American descent, Alter, was born to American Christian missionary parents in Mussoorie in 1950. Alter was working as a teacher in a school in Jagadhri, Haryana, when he was bitten by the acting bug after watching Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore's "Aradhana". He soon joined the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune where he studied acting from 1972 to 1974 and graduated with a gold medal. Alter made his film acting debut in 1976 with Ramanand Sagar's directorial venture "Charas", which starred Dharmendra and Hema Malini in lead roles. Though many felt Alter was typecast in Bollywood as the perennial British man, the actor carved out a niche as a prolific character artiste straddling the worlds of films, theatre, and television effortlessly. His next and one his most celebrated films

Alter made his film acting debut in 1976 with Ramanand Sagar's directorial venture "Charas", which starred Dharmendra and Hema Malini in lead roles. Though many felt Alter was typecast in Bollywood as the perennial British man, the actor carved out a niche as a prolific character artiste straddling the worlds of films, theatre, and television effortlessly. His next and one his most celebrated films was Satyajit Ray's "Shatranj Ke Khilari" (1977), based on Munshi Premchand's short story of the same name. It was followed by Shyam Benegal's "Junoon" (1979), Manoj Kumar's "Kranti" (1981), and Raj Kapoor's "Ram Teri Ganga Maili" (1985). His acting credits also include "Aashiqui", "Parinda", "Sardar Patel", and "Gandhi". His tryst with regional cinema began in 1977 with Kannada film "Kanneshwara Rama". He also acted in Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Telegu, Tamil and Kumaoni films. On television, Alter worked in popular shows like "Junoon", "Zabaan Sambhalke", "Bharat Ek Khoj", "Shaktimaan", "Captain Vyom", and "Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar". He was last seen on TV in ongoing serial "Rishton Ka Chakravyuh". He co-founded Motley Productions with Naseeruddin Shah and Gilani in 1979. Alter also had a glittering stage career, and was among the most revered names in the Indian theatre circuit. His portrayal of Mirza Ghalib and Maulana Azad won him accolades from all quarters. His other notable plays include 'Babur ke Aulaad', 'Lal Qile ka Aakhri Mushaira', 'Ghalib ke Khat', 'Trisanga', 'Teesveen Shatabdi', Copenhagen' and the theatrical reproduction of William Dalrymple's 'City of Djinns'. Not many would know that Alter was a cricket enthusiast. He was also a sports journalist and was the first person to interview Sachin Tendulkar for TV, before his debut as a cricketer for India. His last film was "Sargoshiyan" with Alok Nath and Farida Jalal. The film released in May this year. Apart from his acting prowess, most of Alter's colleagues speak of his kindness and grace.

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