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Fascinating Bollywood actor Tom Alter portrays Maulana Azad in Atlanta

June 2013
Fascinating Bollywood actor Tom Alter portrays Maulana Azad in Atlanta

Legendary Bollywood actor and theater icon Tom Alter performed a mesmerizing Urdu play on Maulana Azad in Atlanta. Both the actor and the play’s director and script writer Dr. Sayeed Alam had travelled directly from India to Atlanta, at the invitation of Aligarh Alumni Association of Atlanta (AAAA), just for this play. The two-day event was also sponsored by India American Cultural Association (IACA) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC).

On May 3, 2013, an exclusive dinner with Tom was held at Hilton Northeast Atlanta, attended by over 120 guests. Mr. Yasir Nomani, President AAAA, introduced and welcomed Thomas Beach Alter and emphasized Tom’s unique contribution in Indian show business. Mr. Kaushal Tripathi, President IACA, called Padma Shri Tom Alter a great Indian (born in India, of American origin) and unique model of shared heritage of India. Dr. Rasheed Ahmad, event coordinator, introduced Dr. Sayeed Alam and highlighted his works in theater and TV. A video clip showed Tom’s famous roles in movies such as Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Gandhi, Sardar, Kranti, and TV serial Junoon. Tom then shared show business stories and reenacted some famous dialogues of his plays. He praised Indian cinema and theater for their diversity and remarkable productions. He and Dr. Alam took questions from the audience.

The next day, the solo play was presented at IACA Hall, Smyrna. For 2.5 hours, Tom Alter portrayed Maulana Azad. As the Maulana dictates notes to his secretary, Humayun Kabir, for his book, India Wins Freedom—largely political—he often digresses, discussing at length an entire gamut of issues, largely apolitical, ranging from white jasmine tea to the Taj Mahal, music to Mecca, and cigarettes to Cheeta Khan. Maulana’s narrative includes numerous entertaining anecdotes and memoirs characterizing his life, personality, thoughts, and scholarship. Maulana’s personal relations with Gandhi ji, Nehru, Patel, and Jinnah also come under review. Despite the length, the audience sat in pin drop silence to hear Tom Alter animating the subcontinent’s history in impeccable Urdu. At the end of play, 200 people rose to applaud Tom Alter and Dr. Sayeed Alam for the terrific performance.

Earlier in the program, Dr. Rasheed Ahmad had noted that Maulana Azad served as first Education Minister of Independent India (1947-1958) and is credited in the establishment of institutions such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), and University Grants Commission (UGC). A portrait of Maulana Azad was unveiled by Honorable Consul-General Mr. Ajit Kumar, and at the end, a special memento was given to each guest on behalf of AAAA, IACA, IAMC, and the Hyderabad Association.



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