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Corporate sponsors affecting movie making: Tom Alter (Interview)

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) The days of daring and adventurous producers and directors are almost gone, laments the extremely versatile Tom Alter, who has merged into the Hindi film industry and television as a natural-born despite his foreign origin.

2008-02-04T09:27:00Z
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New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) The days of daring and adventurous producers and directors are almost gone, laments the extremely versatile Tom Alter, who has merged into the Hindi film industry and television as a natural-born despite his foreign origin.

Tom, who has been named for a Padma Shri by the government, has played an Englishman in several Hindi films as well as a villain.

Still remembered for his role of an Urdu poetry-loving English captain in Satyajit Ray's masterpiece 'Shatranj Ke Khilari' (1977), Tom feels unhappy with the growing presence of corporate houses in filmdom. They don't believe in taking risks but in only making profits, which has led to a dearth in issue-based films, he says.

'In those days, directors were the bosses. Now what happens with the corporate sponsors is that a lot of people are giving their inputs and the director is no longer the boss. This is affecting our movies. So, it is really difficult to find a film that really takes a stand,' Tom told IANS.

'No corporate entity wants to lose money, so they don't take risks; they take on very safe subjects.'

It is only individual filmmakers who churn out path-breaking movies, feels the actor, who has three films lined up for release this year - 'Photo', 'Cycle Kick' and 'The Ocean Of the Old Man'.

'If you look at the films which really have been different over the last 10 years have been made by individuals. Whether it was Aamir Khan's 'Lagaan', Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' or Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's 'Rang De Basanti' - individuals have made great films.

'The days when very daring and adventurous producers and directors were there are almost gone, and I feel very sad about it. Every year, 200 safe films are made and they run and make money, but nobody remembers them.'

He misses the intelligence, creativity and genius of legends like Manoj Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra.

'When was the last time Yash Chopra actually made a film - his corporate is making films. The corporate identity doesn't allow a director to become that big. Even Subhash Ghai - he was an individual but now has become part of a corporate. I'm hoping his next film 'Black And White' reflects his individual style.'

The actor is not too impressed with the young brigade of actors either.

'The current crop of actors are confident, good looking and have maintained themselves very well. But I think they lack a sense of adventure; they don't have individual personalities; they don't think that deeply about the work they are doing. They don't concentrate on the language, for instance.

'You see some of the finest actors are not the people with the greatest physique, some of them are ugly but are fantastic actors because they have got something to say,' Tom said.

Elaborating on his projects, he said: 'Photo' is made by a very dear friend of mine, Virendra Saini. It is the story of a young boy who lives in Ranikhet and wants to learn film direction. I play a librarian who is a film addict and teaches the boy about the history of films. It's a very lovely role.

'The second is 'The Ocean Of The Old Man' - a Hindi film with an English title. We shot this in the Andamans last year. Made by a young fellow from the film institute Rajesh Shera, it is the story of a man who runs a school in the Andamans for tribal children. He loses some of the children in the tsunami as well as his wife and daughter - how he deals with this tragedy is what the film is about. I play the teacher,'

The third film 'Cycle Kick' is made under the banner of Mukta Searchlights and is being directed by newcomer Shashi Sudigala.

'It is not based on football, but about a group of young boys in a small town who are trying to find their way in life. I play a football coach who convinces the boys to stop fighting with each other and play instead.

Direction is also on Tom's agenda, but he doesn't know when it will happen.

'I would love to direct a film. I have many subjects and am working on them. When anything happens I will let you know,' he said, signing off.


Aamir Khan Tom Alter Raj Kapoor Vidhu Vinod Chopra Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Manoj Kumar Subhash Ghai Satyajit Ray


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