Tom Alter '68
Tom Alter has been a well-known face to Indian movie-goers for more than three decades. Apart from acting in Hindi films, Tom Alter has exhibited talent in theatre, in sports and in literature. The son and grandson of American Presbyterian missionaries, Tom grew up in north India in the towns of Rajpur and Mussoorie. As a child, he studied Hindi and Urdu and, consequently, was referred to as the 'blue-eyed sahib with the impeccable Hindi.' After studying in Woodstock School from 1st to 12th Grade and graduating in 1968, Tom worked as a sports teacher at St. Thomas School in Jagadhri, Haryana and came back to the Woodstock as staff for about two years.
In the early 1970s Tom fell in love with the movies (after watching the classic film Aaradhna) which led Tom to enrol in the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), where he studied with the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, and other stalwarts of cinema. Having featuring in almost 100 films, Tom Alter has worked with noted filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, V. Shantaram, Raj Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Manoj Kumar and Ismail Merchant. He has played many significant roles in his career and has had the privilege of working with the best in Hindi cinema and Hollywood. No actor in Hindi cinema has acted in as broad a range of movies.
In addition to acting, Alter has also ventured into direction: he directed a one-shot episode for the short-lived series 'Yule Love Stories' in the mid-1990s. He also worked on the small screen in a number of popular serials: Junoon which ran for five years and won him rave reviews, Zabaan Sambhalke, Ghutan and a talk show Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi are some of the popular shows Tom has been part of. Tom Alter also made his mark in theatre. Significant productions include William Dalrymple's 'City of Djinns' where he shared a stage with the legend Zohra Sehgal. A solo play Maulana, based on the life and vision of freedom fighter Maulana Azad, is also running to rave reviews in India and abroad.
Cricket was more than a passion for Tom Alter. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s Tom was a sports journalist. He continues to play cricket for a film industry team MCC (Match Cut Club), with Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan and Nana Patekar among others. He still writes on cricket for a number of national and international publications. At the WOSA 100 celebrations, Tom captained a team of alumni in a close-fought match against the team led by former staff member Brij Lal. Tom Alter has also written three books, one non-fiction and two fiction: The Longest Race, Rerun at Rialto, The Best in the World.
In 2008 Tom Alter was awarded the prestigious Padma Shree (one of India's highest public honours) by the Indian government in recognition for his services to the field of arts and cinema. Tom Alter stands out in every part of his professional life. In Woodstock, as a student, as a staff member and as a parent, Tom Alter has been a proactive, keen and involved alumnus, an integral part of the Woodstock heritage.