Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Articles: Which versus that

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Hindu : New Delhi News : A man of many tastes

The Hindu : New Delhi News : A man of many tastes

What versatile actor Tom Alter, who asserts that he is a complete Hindustani, loves about India is that it is a secular, free and democratic country, says Madhur Tankha...

Surprising though it might sound, versatile actor Tom Alter says that though he enjoys essaying roles on screen as well as on stage, acting is not his first love.

"I love literature, sports, music, philosophy, poetry, films and travelling. What I really love about our Hindustan is that it is a secular, free and democratic country. If any of these things were removed, then I would not have the same love for my country,'' says Tom.

Born in Mussoorie, he asserts he is a complete Hindustani. "I get irritated when people ask me where I learnt to speak fluent Hindi and Urdu. My father who was a priest always used to keep a copy of the Bible in Urdu," reveals the actor, adding that his most memorable experience on television has been the soap opera "Junoon" in which he played the character of Keshav Kansi. As for theatre, his portrayal of Maulana Azad is his favourite.

"In 1979 I started a theatre group along with Naseeruddin Shah and Benjamin Gilani. For the past 27 years, I have been doing theatre. In the serial `Junoon', I began as a romantic character but was later told to play a villainous role. After the serial ended, I again started doing theatre. I like doing programmes that highlight our unique culture and tradition."

Stating that he has three films in the pipeline, Tom says: "I am acting in a film titled `Foto' in which a young boy aspires to become a film director. Then there is `Mr. Glaad' that revolves around the friendship between a jailer and a naxalite. There is an untitled film shot in the Andamans islands, which is about a teacher whose school gets destroyed by the tsunami."

Dismissing the suggestion that he has been typecast as a British officer in Bollywood films, Tom says: "I have acted in 250 films. Name me ten films in which I have played such a role. In `Charas' I played an Interpol inspector, who speaks in Punjabi with Dharmendra, while in "Kranti" I spoke my dialogues in Urdu. And in Satyajit Ray's `Shatranj Ke Khiladi' I spoke a language that was spoken during the days of Wajid Ali Shah."

Criticising the media's obsession with branding cinema as parallel and mainstream, the actor asks how one will describe films like "Rang De Basanti" and "Omkara"? "I liked `Omkara' so much that I can say that it is equal to a top European film. The film has been successful because of the way the story has been narrated. Even `Rang De Basanti' was a hit because of its storyline. So too was `Krrish'."

As for expletives being used in Vishal Bhardwaj's film "Omkara", the actor says there are certain areas in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan where people indulge in foul mouthing and justifies the use of derogatory words in Aamir Khan's "Rang De Basanti".

Asserting that Urdu is not only the language of Pakistanis but also of Indians, Tom says language is not confined to any country or community. "There is a misconception among some Pakistanis that Urdu is their mother tongue. Mirza Ghalib, Premchand, Mir and Zauq were not Pakistanis. Unfortunately, after Partition Urdu-speaking people went in a different direction, while the Hindi-speaking people took a different route. The fault lies with people who speak these two different languages. Both Hindu and Urdu are siblings. Now, this love of zaban (language) is coming about."
Revealing that Kishore Kumar is the favourite of some Pakistani cricketers, Tom says that the singer never sang in Urdu.

"When I went to Pakistan in the 1980s, the videocassette of mythological serial `Mahabharat' was available in shops. So it is not that they do not know Hindi."

Stating that an artiste does not crave for appreciation, Tom says the greatest admiration comes when the common man understands his work.