Tue, Sep 03, 2019 3:03

Happy birthday to Mahanayak Uttam Kumar


‘Mahanayak’ (great actor), Kumar dominated the Bengali film industry for three decades, working with auteurs such as Satyajit Ray, Nirmal Dey, Niren Lahiri and more.

Every film industry has had a superstar, that one actor who surpasses all others — maybe not in skill, but in performance and sheer star power.

In Bollywood, we’ve seen the likes of Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan; in Tamil and Telugu cinema, there have been Rajnikanth, N.T. Rama Rao and more. In Bengali cinema, however, there is only one name — Uttam Kumar.

Popularly known as ‘mahanayak’ (great actor), Kumar dominated the Bengali film industry for three decades, working with auteurs such as Satyajit Ray, Nirmal Dey, Niren Lahiri and more.

On this day of 1926, the actor was born in a middle-class family in Bhabanipur, Kolkata. Today on September 3 is the birth anniversary of the Mahanayak of the Bengali film.

His father’s name was Satkari Chatterjee and mother’s name was Chapala Debi. Of the three children, Uttam Kumar was the eldest.

However, he could not finish his graduation. Coming from a middle-class family, he had to work hard to establish himself in the film world. Uttam Kumar has been a fan of theater and Jatra since childhood. He got much appreciation when he played the role of Chhota Gyasur at the school’s annual function.

Being a legend of Bengali film was not very easy. He was known as the ‘Flop Master General’. When he entered the studio, people laughed at him and said “Here comes the new Durgadas” or “Meet the new Chabbi Biswas’”. ‍At one time, he left the film industry and join as a ‘general clerk’ at Kolkata Port with only Tk 275.

But later his wife, ‘Gouri Chatterjee’ told him that it would be better if he did not do a job his heart was not in.

Mahanayak started his career with the film ‘Maydor’ and started the career. But in the face of various complications, the film was not released. But the person who is the mixed acting craze that mixed with blood, he never wants to defeat or surrender.  

He then got the contact at M.P Studios for three years. He starred in the film ‘Dristidan’. This film, directed by Nitin Basu, is the first time that Uttam Kumar stated to come in limelight to the audience. But his other film ‘Basu Paribar’ from which he came into prominence.

India’s one of the best director Satyajit Ray’s ‘Nayok’ and ‘Chiriyakhana’ starring his acting career becomes more prosperous. He won the Indian National Award for his performance in ‘Chiriyakhana’. The film ‘Nayok’ was also widely appreciated.

Later, Uttam Kumar did not look behind through his career and gradually become the best actor in Bengali film. Even today, his popularity and his film did not even decrease.  

His breakthrough film was ‘Agni Pariksha’ in 1954 that began the success of the all-time romantic pair of ‘Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen’, though they had first paired in ‘Sharey Chuattor’ in 1953. The film ran for 65 weeks and established Uttam in the industry. Through this film, the great actress Suchitra Sen became famous with the help of Uttam.

The on-screen chemistry between Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen has always been much adored and admired. Both of them together constituted the evergreen and popular romantic pair of Bengali Cinema till date.​

This great actor was very romantic in his personal life. The love relation with Suchitra Sen and Sabitri and divorcee with actress Supriya Devi was the events that created discussion and gossip in the film industry. it is still the discussion and gossip in the film industry about the love relation between Suchitra and Uttam.

Some of Uttam’s famous films co-starring Suchitra Sen include ‘Share Chuattor’, ‘Agni Pariksha’, ‘Shilpi’, ‘Saptapadi’, ‘Pathe Holo Deri’, ‘Harano Sur’, ‘Chaowa Paowa’, ‘Bipasha’, ‘Jiban Trishna’, ‘Sagarika’, ‘Trijama’, ‘Indrani’, ‘Sabar Upare’, ‘Surjyo Toron’, ‘Rajlakshmi O Sreekanto’, ‘Ekti Raat’, ‘Grihadaha’, ‘Kamallata’, ‘Har Mana Har’, ‘Alo Amar Alo’.

There is a theatre ‘Uttam Mancha’ named after him in Kolkata. A life-size statue has been erected near Tollygunj metro station which has recently been renamed after the iconic actor by the Central Railway Ministry. Besides, Shilpi Sansad, the actor’s pet project of safeguarding the artistes especially the poor and the old, is active still.

His creation in this subcontinent, his look and amazement smile still holds us in our mind. This protagonist passed away at the age of 54 on July 24, 1980. Today we pay deep respect for him and tribute to him.