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Uttam Kumar, the original Bengali superstar
By Bengali Tollywood News Network, Sat 21/Nov/2009

Some insist Uttam Kumar made his debut as an extra in a film called Mayadore in 1947. Today, 27 years after his death somehow this bit of ‘trivia’ doesn’t seem to matter. Because in more ways than one, the actor and his works have left an indelible a mark on Bengali cinema.

It wouldn’t be entire incorrect if one picks out two films which have proved to be milestones in the history of Bengali films and changed their character forever. One, of course, was the release of Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. The other was the triumph of mainstream cinema in the hit film Agni Pareeksha that introduced the greatest romantic pair in Bengali cinema – Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen.

Uttam Kumar was a legend in his lifetime. And he remains one even 27 years after his passing away on July 24, 1980, of a massive heart attack. Every year, in celebration of his memory, Kolkata comes alive with Bengali channels across the board flush with telecast of his films. His successors in the Bengali film industry organise entertainment programmes with songs and dances from his films performed on stage to packed audiences to bring back a bit of the nostalgia alive.

Kolkata has a theatre in his name, Uttam Mancha; his life-size statue of near Tollygunge Metro station; and of course there is the Utttam Kumar Award instituted in his memory.

Interestingly, this greatest star of Bengali cinema was labelled ‘Flop Master General’ at the outset of his career. In his early days, every single film in which he played the hero flopped tagging him to the label he worked hard to wipe away. It took a long, hard struggle, shedding of silent tears, rising above deep frustration and a determination to succeed that saw him rise to the pinnacle of success.

In a career that spanned over three decades, he acted in not less than 159 Bengali films, infusing in the characters he played, a unique charm. Whether he played the old faithful servant in Khokababur Pratyabartan, or the amnesiac industrialist opposite Suchitra Sen in Harano Sur, inspired from the famous Hollywood hit Random Harvest, you couldn’t miss the effort that went into bringing them alive.

As he mellowed into character roles with age, his performance matured and his screen persona took on a new look, though he continued to dominate the screen in mature roles such as the committed doctor in Agnisnaan or the complex villain in Ayananta or Chunilal in Dilip Roy’s Devdas.

His first film Dhristidaan released in 1948 while his last film, Ogo Bodhu Sundari, loosely adapted from My Fair Lady, hit the screen in 1980. In the same year, he passed away.

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Comments(2)
nafisa Said:

Uttam kumar is really great actor.

Mon 03/May/2010
braja Said:

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Fri 23/Sep/2011
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