Would Like To Play Nehru or Jinnah: Tom Alter
New Delhi: He has comfortably slipped into playing Sardar Patel and Lord Mountbatten on screen and effortlessly reprised the roles of Urdu poet-lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and Maulana Azad on stage. But thespian Tom Alter - often called a "firang" for his western looks but who insists he is an Indian - desires to enact the roles of two stalwarts of partition, Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
"Jinnah is a very controversial figure to play. But I personally feel there is something to learn from him. Why he became a fanatic, no one knows. If we can find that out, I am sure there must be something to learn from it," Alter told IANS in an interview.
"I have played so many roles, but playing Nehru and Jinnah on stage should be exciting. We haven't explored the lives of these people," he added.
If one connects the dots of Alter's journey, it bears striking resemblance to that of a Bollywood movie: a 19-year-old school teacher is inspired after watching late veteran Rajesh Khanna's performance in "Aradhana". He packs his bags and gets admitted to the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and the rest, as they say, is history.
Though his debut film was "Charas", the Padma Shri recipient is fondly remembered for his role of Captain Weston in Satyajit Ray's "Shatranj Ke Khiladi" whom he had met at FTII's convocation day in 1974, where Alter had won a gold medal.
"He passed by me and said 'we will be working together'. Initially I thought it was a figment of my imagination and then I forgot about it. But I did get a call after a year and a half from him for this role," he recollected.