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Himanshu Roy

IWB Blogger

JWB Talks To Theatre Master Tom Alter At The Kahaani Festival Of Jaishree Periwal High School

  • IWB Post
  •  December 7, 2015


It was the festival of stories and who was the storyteller? The Pied Piper of Hamlin himself, who left people from 6 to 60 years old mesmerized.

“I don’t have a cellphone.”

When the master theater, actor Tom Alter uttered those words in a jam-packed auditorium of the Jayshree Periwal High School, there was a stunned silence. Wait…What about WhatsApp, the internet, how would I check the score of the India-South Africa match… God, I am freaking out!

Yup, this was the reaction that was evident from the faces of the students, right from the toddlers to teenagers. But soon, they understood that when it comes to Tom Alter, things are bound to go against the tide.


And guess what, he was in his own element at the Kahaani Festival, which started today at the school.

So what happens when Tom Alter, the ‘Blue-eyed Sahib’ of Indian cinema finds himself in a storytelling festival?

He spoke his heart out. Not even for once did the children can think that this jovial person who was mingling with them with an ease of another teenager was a formidable actor who had worked with some of the biggest names in the world cinema.

Soon, awestruck faces and endless patterns of clapping became a common sight in the cozy auditorium where people from all age groups had huddled to witness this artist enacting a story.

It was a tale of joy, grief, and laughter, all fused into one:

An old father hasn’t spoken to his son for the last 20 years of his life. So what happens when one day he suddenly grabs the telephone (with those old combination dials) and calls his son, pretending that he is having a heart attack?

I remember laughing at some point, compelled to think at some other moment and by the time I heard the full story, my mood was a mishmash of joy and melancholy, longing for more.

“Kaisa lag raha hai ap logo ko?” It was right after his gig that Alter threw this question to the audience in chaste Hindi, and the entire auditorium burst out with applause.

And then the hordes of autograph seekers and selfie clickers, who mobbed the veteran actor, started coming in soon after his session ended.

It was at this time that I decided to take the plunge into the sea of fans and ask a few quick questions to Alter on behalf of JWB because he would soon be leaving for Delhi.

After braving star-struck students (and their parents) and much heckling, I introduced myself and fired my first question.

My query was that since he had worked with many powerhouse actresses in his illustrious career, what does he think about the current scenario?

He chuckled, “Oh the scene is even better now. Nowadays good films are being made and that is why incredibly talented actresses are getting roles that give them the space to flex their full acting potential.”


Now, this is called multi-tasking. He told all this to me and simultaneously gave around half a dozen autographs and selfies.

The actor said next that he feels now that women are blessed because there are many directors, including women filmmakers who are not shying away from making daring films that ask questions.

“So you really don’t keep a cell phone?” A fan asked.

Hey, that was my next question!

But Alter seemed to be not at all dismayed by this query from a young fan of his and said, “Why don’t you try and keep your phone switched off for six hours every day and see what you gain in terms of simple pleasures of life? Then you can ask this question again!

Now, here’s a man who talks differently. What do you think?


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