Veteran actor Tom Alter is no more

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Tom Alter, the American-born Indian actor who whose success in TV, theatre and cinema earned him the Padma Shri award in 2008, died at his Mumbai residence on Friday. He was 67.

He was born in the hill station of Mussoorie in 1950, Alter was a third-generation American in India.

The renowned actor and one-time sports writer and author had been battling stage four skin cancer.

Known for starring in television shows like Bharat Ek Khoj, Zabaan Sambhalke and Betaal Pachisi, Tom Alter also had a flourishing career on stage.

He played pivotal roles in successful films like Gandhi, Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Kranti, Aashiqui and Parinda, and was the author of three books, including Rerun at Rialto and The Longest Race.

Throughout his cinematic and television career, Alter remained busy with theatre, having co-founded Motley Productions with Naseeruddin Shah and Gilani in 1979. His prominent stage work includes the two-and-a-half-hour-long solo play in Urdu, ‘Maulana’, ‘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’.

In early 2017, Alter enacted a festival of his various plays in Hindi, English, Hindustani and Urdu titled titled ‘Jashn-e-Maazi: The Play of History’ which featured 19 of his portrayals and adaptations of leading historical figures such as Maulana Azad, Mirza Ghalib, Manto, Saahir Ludhianvi, Rabindranath Tagore, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Alfred Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi.

Tom Alter, who was also a sports journalist, did with a young Sachin Tendulkar. It was the Master Blaster’s very first TV interview.

A statement from Alter’s family published by read: “It is with sadness we announce the death of Tom Alter, actor, writer, director, Padma Shri, and our dear husband and father. Tom passed away Friday night at home with his family and close family members in attendance. We ask for their privacy to be respected at this time.”

Alter was last seen on the big screen in this year’s Sargoshiyan.

He is survived by his wife Carol, son Jamie, and daughter Afshaan.