Uttam Kumar will perhaps remain as the most loved and popular actor of Bengali cinema. Even after half a century, his charisma wins hands down.
Arun Kumar Chatterjee or better known as Uttam Kumar was born in Kolkata. Arun was the eldest and Barun and Tarun his younger brothers. While studying in college he worked as a clerk at Kolkata Port. But his heart lay somewhere else – in theatre which he pursued since childhood.
Uttam Kumar’s film career did not start well at all. His first film was Mayador which did not release. The next film Drishtidan became his debut film. However these films and more followed but none ever got success and became flops one after another.
It is difficult to believe that Mahanayak Uttam Kumar was then nicknamed and teased as the ‘flop master’ because people thought he was not good enough to be a film star. It was in this difficult time that his wife Gouri Chatterjee stood by him prompting him to try again.
Uttam Kumar came to fame in Sare Chuattor and then in Agni Pariksha, starring in both the films with the gorgeous Suchitra Sen. His career took the turn he was waiting for and since then the megastar Uttam Kumar came into being.
Uttam Kumar acted in more than 200 films. He has been an actor, a playback singer, composer and a director. He is the holder of many prestigious awards.
Uttam Kumar had been loved madly by female fans for his charming smile and charismatic looks. Men copied his style and every gesture and are still emulating him in this era. But Uttam Kumar was more than a pretty face and handsome man.
There are many popular films but here we wanted to pick those fantastic pieces of cinema which have his indelible mark as a really great actor. Here are seven such films –
Stree has been a heartrending film that reminds us that such superb films only get made once. Uttam Kumar is not his regular romantic self here, rather he is just the opposite – he is the drunkard zamindar with no sense of chastity. Yet he dazzles in this persona so well that only Uttam Kumar can. This Uttam Soumitra film is a classic and Uttam Kumar’s dialogues still remain popular.
Uttam Kumar, like Chhabi Biswas excelled in the role of a zamindar. Here he is a benevolent landlord who is the victim to a cruel conspiracy. This is a film based on a true story on the life of Bhawal Raja and Uttam Kumar’s portrayal made him a household name.
The world would not have known Antony Firingee had it not been for Uttam Kumar. This was the unusual story of the Portuguese poet who came to love Bengal and its culture. Weaved with a beautiful love story, Uttam Kumar gave this character a new life.
If you still have doubts about Mahanayak’s acting skills, you must watch Khokababur Pratyabartan. It is not at all easy for a charismatic lead actor to play the role of a next door servant. It takes more than skill and hard work to accomplish such a character to its fullest. The film was based on a story the master Rabindranath Tagore which made it a greater challenge to keep up with the feeling of the story. At the end, Uttam Kumar performed it so well that it remains as one of the most touching Bengali films ever made.
Would you not trust a dashing, charming man? Who could have imagined the attractive Uttam Kumar as the cold blooded manipulative villain! His role in this film keeps you on the edge till the end. Bonus, a star cast of Pahari Sanyal, Kamal Mitra, Sharmila Tagore, Sabitri Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt, Tarun Kumar and Bikash Roy.
Bagh Bandi Khela
Uttam Kumar even makes politics enjoyable. However, his role as an aspiring elected leader is chilling to the bone and strangely makes a lot of sense. It is the mark of an amazing actor the way he portrayed all that is corrupt, lusty and greedy.
This role was ‘born’ for him. The superstar in the Satyajit Ray’s greatest Nayak could not have been better portrayed if not for Uttam Kumar. In a way the protagonist Arindam Mukherjee was brought to life by him. It is said that Nayak was more than a film, it was a ‘phenomenon’.
Perhaps Uttam Kumar was also a phenomenon. Kings rule and leave. Uttam Kumar ruled and he still rules the screen and our hearts now and will rule many more years to come.