Thomas Beach Alter (Tom Alter) Padma Shri veteran actor passes away at his Mumbai residence on Saturday. He was 67. The actor was suffering from squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer).
Tom Alter was battling stage four skin cancer at a Mumbai hospital, where he was admitted earlier in September. He returned home on Thursday and breathed his last on Friday night, said manager Ismail Ansari.
In an official statement, Tom Alters’s son Jamie Alter said, “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.”
Tom was born in Mussoorie in 1950. He was a third-generation American in India who studied at Woodstock School in the Himalayas and then briefly at Yale University in the USA.
In 1972, he was chosen from over 800 applicants across North India to be enrolled in at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of Pune, later he completed his graduation and was awarded with a gold medal in acting.
Tom acted in over 300 movies and numerous TV shows, most famously as the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit soap opera Junoon in 1990s.
In addition to acting, Alter also ventured into direction and was a sports journalist in the 80s and 90s. He was the first person to interview Sachin Tendulkar for TV when the cricketer was yet to debut for India. Tom has written three books, one non-fiction and two fiction, and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Indian government in recognition for his services to the field of arts and cinema.
The first super hit film of Tom was director by Ramanand Sagar’s “Charas” in 1976, in which he played the role of superstar Dharmendra’s boss, a CID official.
Among his notable roles during the first decade of his acting career were Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Shyam Benega’s Junoon (1979), Manoj Kumar’s magnum opus Kranti (1981) and Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). Other notable directors he worked with during the 70s and 80s were V Shantaram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Anand – who gave him his first break in the Dev Anand-starrer Saheb Bahadur – and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who gave him the pivotal role of the gangster Musa in the critically acclaimed hit Parinda and in 90s, Mahesh Bhatt’s Aashiqui, Junoon and Gumrah, Ketan Mehta’s Sardar and Priyadarshan’s Kala Pani. During this time, he also acted in regional cinema – Bengali, Assamese, Telegu, Tamil and Kumaoni films. Among his foreign films are Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and One Night with the King, in which he acted opposite his idol, the legendary Peter O’Toole.
Tom leading work on TV was seen in Junoon, Zabaan Sambhalke, Jugalbandi, Bharat EK Khoj, Ghutan, Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom, Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi and Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar. Most recently, he was seen in a pivotal role in the ongoing serial Rishton Ka Chakravyuh on Star Plus. At the time of his death, Tom had approximately 20 unreleased films lined up along with web series by Eros Now titled Smoke.
Tom cinematic and television life was quite busy with theatre, Productions with Naseeruddin Shah and Gilani in 1979.
Tom 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’.
Tom 2017, Historical play roles was adaptation of leading historical figures such as Maulana Azad, Mirza Ghalib, Manto, Saahir Ludhianvi, Rabindranath Tagore, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Alfred Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi.
Tom is survived by his wife and fourth American generation in India his son Jamie, and daughter Carol. May His Soul Rest in Peace and God strengthen his family to bare the pain of his absence.