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    Wednesday, July 24, 2013
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Death Anniversary of Uttam Kumar- The Mahanayak of Bangla cinema

By Supriyo Das

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Death Anniversary of Uttam Kumar- The Mahanayak of Bangla cinema

Uttam Kumar (3rd September 1926 – 24th July 1980) was an Indian film actor in Tollywood. His real name was Arun Kumar Chatterjee and was born at Ahiritola in North Kolkata. He is popularly known as Uttam Kumar and Mahanayak. Apart from acting, he was a cultural icon, famous as a director, singer, music director and producer. Above all, his contribution earned him critical adoration.

Uttam Kumar is considered as one of the most popular film stars in the history of cinema. He was a recipient of National Film Award for Best Actor for Anthony Firangee and Chiriyakhana. A Metro Station was built in Kolkata in his honor.

Uttam Kumar is the first son of Satkari Chatterjee and Chapala Debi. After completing studies, he joined a theatre group, the Suhrid Samaj which was owned by his prodigious joint family. His younger brother Tarun Kumar too followed his footsteps to the theatre. Both of them acted in popular Bengali movies like Sonar Harin, SaptapadiSesh Anka, Maya Mriga, Jeeban-Mrityu, Deya Neya, Mon Niye, Dhanyi Meye, Agniswar and Sanyasi Raja. But his most applauded film was Satyajit Ray’s Nayak. Uttam Kumar married Gauri Debi. Their grandson Gaurav is a Tollywood actor.

Uttam Kumar’s first release was Drishtidan which was directed by Nitin Bose. His breakthrough film was Agni Pariksha that commenced the roaring success of the all-time romantic combo of Uttam Kumar - Suchitra Sen. The duo was spotted in total 30 films. Some of them are Shapmochan, Sagarika, Sharey Chuattor, Shilpi, Indrani, Harano Sur, Surjyo Toron, Sabar Uparey and many more. Uttam-Suchitra movies were marked by a more naturalistic acting style, soft-focus black-and-white cinematography with chiaroscuro effects, a bit dramatic-stylized and a more popular and modern form of music that diverted more decisively from previous dependence on classical types.

Apart from Suchitra Sen, the actor made successful screen pairs with many leading ladies like Sabitri Chatterjee, Supriya Choudhuri, Sharmila Tagore, Madhabi Mukherjee, Aparna Sen, Anjana Bhaumick, Sumitra Mukherjee, Sandhyarani, Mala Sinha, Arundhati Debi, Tanuja and Kaberi Bose. Uttam Kumar struggled a lot to find a place on the silver screen.

Uttam Kumar also acted in some renowned Hindi movies like Chhoti Si Mulaqat, Anand Ashram, Amanush, Kitaab and Dooriyaan. Subsequently, the actor directed much-lauded films like Sudhu Ekti Bochhor and Bon Palashir Padaboli. He even successfully produced Bengali movies like Bhrantibilash, Saptapadi, Harano Sur, Grihadah and Jotugriha. Moreover, he composed music for the film Kaal Tumi Aleya. Uttam Kumar won several national as well asBengal film journalists’ association awards.

While shooting for the film Ogo Bodhu Sundori in 1980, Uttam Kumar suffered a major heart attack. He was rushed to the Belleveue Clinic. The doctors did their best for 16 hours but he died that night on 24th July 1980 at the age of 53. As his hearse wound its way across Bhowanipur and ultimately to the Keoratala Burning Ghat, traffic in Kolkata came to a stand still as thousands assembled the streets to pay their homage and have a last glimpse of the legend.

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