Despite being the son of a cinema legend like Tom Alter, Jamie Alter decided to pursue a career in sports. In a very short span of time, Jamie emerged as one of the most credible sports journalists in the country. While sports was his biggest passion, Jamie had a soft corner for cinema as well.
A couple of years back, Jamie forayed into acting and now, works towards striking a balance between his professional duties as an actor in the entertainment industry and an anchor and journalist in the field of sports. After making his presence felt in well-received shows like ‘Afsos’, ‘Undekhi’, ‘Rocket Boys’ and ‘Constable Girpade’, Jamie recently made his film debut with the Netflix original film ‘The Archies’.
In this interview, Jamie talks about why featuring in a film is a special feeling, working with Zoya Akhtar, journey as an actor so far, why sports will always be a part of his life, upcoming projects and more.
In ‘The Archies’, we saw you as Mike Gomes, who is a City Council member of Riverdale, the fictional town the film is set in. It was a brief but impactful role. Long after the end credits stop rolling, we remember Gomes as he plays an important role in saving Green Park. One of the reasons why the character stands out is because he is a man of consciousness. How was your experience of portraying this character?
The experience was fantastic because of the reasons you just stated. I was called by casting directors Nandini Shrikent and Karan Mally to audition for the part. They told me very honestly that it’s a small part but crucial to the plot of the film. I told them that I would have even agreed to do just a scene in the film as it was being directed by Zoya Akhtar. Another big reason behind me saying a yes to the film was the fact that it was based on The Archies comics which I grew up reading. I did not have a lot of dialogues but the character was integral to the plot of the film. In the last 10-12 minutes, he is seen prominently. He is somebody who plays his part in making the town a happier place to live in. After the release of the film, I have been getting a lot of messages on social media. I am happy with the kind of response the film has received so far.
The first Archies comics was published in the year 1939. Interestingly, this is the first-ever film to have been made on the comics and the characters featuring in them.
A few years back, an American series called ‘Riverdale’ was made for Netflix. But yes, this is the first film made on the Archies comics. I had read countless Archies comics as a child. Despite the film being set in India, a lot of elements from the comics books were a part of it. You have to be open to change and remember that it is an adaptation. If a particular thing is portrayed in a certain way in a comic or book, there is a possibility of it being depicted differently in a film. When I went to the set for the first time, I could feel that the makers had made a lot of effort to ensure everything came across as authentic. It was designed as a fantasy film and they managed to build a fantastical world successfully. The authenticity on the sets helped me step into this world smoothly as an actor and perform well.
You were supposed to make your film debut with a film called ‘Alex Hindustani’ almost a decade ago. The film never released and you ended up making your debut in cinema with ‘The Archies’.
That’s correct! I was playing the titular role in ‘Alex Hindustani’ and it was supposed to release around 2012-13. I did a couple of films after that but my parts always ended up being edited out. I had actually shot for a film produced by Yash Raj Films before I signed ‘The Archies’. Because of the Covid-19 situation and other factors, the film got pushed ahead. It will now come out sometime next year. So, technically ‘The Archies’ is my first released film as an actor. I had been a part of a few shows earlier but there was always this desire to do a film. I am glad ‘The Archies’ marked my debut in Hindi cinema. The entire team at Tiger Baby Films and Netflix took great care of us.
Are you now looking forward to do a film that releases in theatres?
I have an important film coming up on a streaming platform. Streaming platforms have a huge reach and having your film or show release on one of those platforms also feels good. Of course, we grew up watching films on the big screen and I hope to see myself on the big screen soon.
There was a time when an actor like Danny Denzongpa, who came from the North Eastern part of the country, got all kinds of characters to play. Then, filmmakers started putting actors in boxes. An actor like you could have been easily stereotyped as somebody who should be cast in firang roles. However, with the advent of streaming platforms, we have witnessed a change. You could, for instance, play a man from Uttar Pradesh. Do you find yourself getting interesting opportunities as an actor today?
I had the opportunity to audition for a diverse bunch of roles. For some reason, I could not crack some of those auditions. I have played half a dozen characters where the makers did not specify the origin of the characters. I have also played the stereotypical firang in a few projects. I have just started my journey as an actor and I have done a couple of those roles as well. The projects were good and I got the opportunity to work with some fantastic actors, directors and technicians. I also hope to get opportunities where I can break stereotypes and do something that people don’t expect me to do. In the film produced by Yash Raj Films, I have a very significant role and I am eagerly waiting for it to come out. I am okay with the idea of playing smaller parts as long as there is some depth in them.
How was it being directed by Zoya Akhtar?
Zoya made all of us feel at home. She is full of warmth and positivity. As a director, her attention to detail is admirable. If something is not right on the sets, she would spot it immediately. She has a very clear vision and knows how to extract solid performances from the actors. Most of the film was shot in Ooty. They had built a beautiful set there. The Green Park and excursion scenes were shot in Mauritius.
To pursue a career as an actor, you left behind a career in sports journalism. Was it easy to leave behind a stable job to work as a freelance actor?
I haven’t left my career as a sports journalist behind. I no longer do a regular job but I continue to write for different publications and host sporting events as well. I never see myself leaving the world of sports. The Asia Cup was organized in the month of September and the World Cup was in October. During this period, I was doing 4-6 live shows every day. During that time, I had to turn down several acting offers. Striking a balance between the two worlds becomes a little difficult at times but this is how I will continue to move forward. My journey as an actor has largely been rewarding. However, every single day serves as a reminder of the fact that I need to work much harder. I am trying to push my boundaries with every project I am doing.