Tom Alter to Debut as Director of a Whodunit With Sharmila Tagore
Tom Alter, Bollywood’s go-to guy for all ‘gora sahib’ roles will now make his debut as a director
After four decades of multi-tasking as a movie, theatre, television actor, besides authoring novels and writing on sports, the 65-year-old Tom Alter is gung-ho about turning film director on May 28.
“It’s never too late,” he laughs,” while disclosing the fact that quite a few of his colleagues from the Motley theatre group -- Benjamin Gilani and Uday Chandra --have been included in the supporting ensemble of actors. Plus, there’s Asha Sachdev who was shocked when he called upon the in-retirement actress who like Tom Alter, graduated from the Film and Television Institute of Pune.
Er, but what about Naseeruddin Shah who was one of the founders of Motley way back in 1979? “No, Naseer won’t be in the film,” Alter responds crisply, deflecting discussion on their rumoured creative differences.
Alter, often known as the Mumbai film
industry’s ‘blue-eyed sahab’, has chosen
to to direct Rerun at Rialto, a thriller located in the actor’s hometown
Mussoorie. The screenplay has been adapted from his own 2002 novel which
narrates the story of an attractive middle-aged woman who, with her family,
goes for a revival screening of Mughal-e-Azam at the hilltown’s nostalgia
exuding, art-deco Rialto cinema. At the end of the show, she has vanished, leading
to a whodunit thriller.
Sharmila Tagore has been pencilled in for the part of the vanishing lady.
The actor-about-to-turn director, is especially gung-ho about a casting coup of sorts. India’s original Mr Bharat, Manoj Kumar, has assented to play a brief but pivotal cameo as the projectionist of Rialto cinema, which incidentally closed down ten years ago.
Alter who portrayed a British officer in Manoj Kumar’s Kranti believes that the 78-year-old actor-producer-director-lyricist is perfect for the part which will require only a day’s shoot.
Manoj sir has also suggested that he would like to write the lyrics of some of the songs. I’m honoured that he has agreed to come on board. In fact, we’re planning to start the film’s first shot with Manoj sir at an old Mumbai cinema which resembles the Rialto to a degree.Tom Alter
For Manoj Kumar, May will be an unusually
busy month. To receive the Dadasaheb Phalke Award of the year, he will be in
New Delhi on May 2. Yesteryear’s Mr Bharat has been suffering from a back
ailment and may have to be wheelchaired on stage. His last screen appearance
was over a decade ago in Maidan-e-Jung, a little-remembered actioner toplining
Dharmendra, Akshay Kumar and Karisma Kapoor.
Alter says that all care will be taken at
the one-day shoot of Rerun in Rialto so that his guest star in a ‘very special
appearance’ will not be physically strained.
Bring up the subject of two biographies
which have been in the works for quite a while on Tom Alter, and he retorts,
“Oh that! I requested one of the
writers – a fine journalist from Delhi -- not to go into the cliché that here’s
a gora of American descent who can speak perfect Hindi and Urdu. I’m tired of
that. She didn’t know how to react. So I suspect that she might have given up
on me as a lost cause.”
(The writer is a film critic, filmmaker, theatre director and weekend painter.)
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