Remembering Uttam Kumar: The ‘Mahanayak’ Of Bengali Cinema

| July 24 , 2015 , 21:07 IST
It was the early morning of 24th July 1980, when the Bengali matinee idol Uttam Kumar took his last breath. Whole Bengal was in the state of shock when the news of his death broke out. People came out on streets to get a last glimpse of their superstar, howling millions followed the vehicle carrying his remains. uttamWidely regarded as the greatest actor of Bengali cinema, Uttam Kumar had a huge fan following. In fact, Bollywood actor Raj Kapoor used to call him ‘The Smart Modern Hero of India’. Uttam’s first movie was ‘Drishtidan’ in 1948, after which he acted in many films, unfortunately all of them flopped badly. People in the industry started making fun of him and started calling him as the ‘Flop Master’. He later got the contact at M.P Studios for three years. M.P studios produced the film "Basu Paribar" in which he came into prominence, but his breakthrough film was 'Agni Pariksha' in 1954 that began the success of the all-time romantic pair of Uttam Kumar - Suchitra Sen. Often starred alongside actress Suchitra Sen on-screen, the duo ushered in the so-called 'golden era' of Bengali cinema and they went on to become icons of romantic melodramas for more than twenty years. Apart from Bengali, Uttam Kumar also acted in around 15 Hindi films such as Chhoti Si Mulaqat, Amanush, Anand Ashram, Dooriyaan, Bandie and Kitaab. He explored new avenues of film-making by trying his hand at production, singing, composing music, screenplay writing and directing. Manna Dey became the voice of Bengal's matinee idol Uttam Kumar after ‘Gali theke Rajpath’ and ‘Sankhyabela’. In fact 'Sankhaybela' established Manna Dey as the voice of Uttam Kumar and this continued for numerous films. Listen to some of the best evergreen songs of Uttam Kumar: His most lauded appearances was in Satyajit Ray's Nayak (The Hero). Many people feel the film bears resemblance to Uttam Kumar's own life – the sense of anxiety and restlessness mirrored Uttam's insecurities about his phenomenal success and abiding fear that his   superstardom might not last. In his entire lifetime, Uttam Kumar donned many hats, an actor, director, singer, producer, music composer, etc. He will always be remembered as one of the ‘Greatest Heroes’ of the film industry.

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