Uttam Kumar was matinee idol of Bengali cinema. He was a super star and super actor that Bengali cinema has ever produced. The actor has not been 35 years present in the screen, but he remains the evergreen romantic protagonist whose charm cannot wither still with time. There is still a craze for Uttam Kumar’s films in Kolkata just because his films have attained mythical status and his memories still continue to haunt the viewers.
He was an iconic figure of Indian cinema. He was an actor who could go deep into the character, and there will never be another Uttam Kumar in Indian cinema. He was one of the eminent actors that Indian cinema has ever produced. Many of us knows that he was a flop star when he made a debut in cinema. He was struggling actor. He even worked as a clerk in Calcutta Port Trust and even engaged himself in theater activities. It was this time that he got married to Gauri Ganguli (1948).
Later he got a contract at M.P. Studios for three years and established himself as a star. His first mega hit film was with
Sabitri Chatterjee. ‘Basu Paribar’ was a big hit. In 1953, he delivered another hit Sharey Chuattor". After that, everything was a part of history. Soon his pairing with
Suchitra Sen clicked so well in some films that Uttam-Suchitra pair achieved a cult status in Bengali commercial cinema. He paired with all leading heroines of his time with resounding success. These films are Deya Neya in which he paired with Tanuja.
Then came Ekhane Pinjar with
Aparna Sen, Bhrantibilash with Sabitri Chatterjee. Amanush opposite
Sharmila Tagore, Stree with Arati Bhattacharya, Jeeban-Mrityu with Supriya Choudhury, after which he performed in Prithibi Amarey Chaye with
Mala Sinha as the lady lead. Then followed Chhadmabeshi in which Madhavi Mukherje was his pair and Harano Sur (Suchitra Sen). Thus, Uttam Kumar dominated Bengali cinema for three decades until his death, and he became the one-man industry. Even Satyajit Ray directed him in his two films (Nayak and Chiriyakhana). He acted in a Tapan Sinha’s film ‘Jhinder Bondi’.
The actor tried to foray into Hindi cinema but was not a successful star in Mumbai film world. He acted in 15 Hindi films. He received national awards for best acting for two films(Antony Firingee and Chiriyakhana). In his career, he was linked with
Supriya Devi, who was his co-star in many successful films. Uttam Kumar was a very over-rated actor. He even faced a stiff competition with another popular Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee, and both of then acted in a film named ‘Jhinder Bondi’ together.
The actor had a severe heart attack when he was shooting for a film ‘Ogo Bodhu Shundori’ and that was his last shot in Studio. He was taken to the hospital and passed away on July 24, 1980. In memory of his contribution to Indian cinema, West Bengal Government had renamed a metro railway station after his name. In his career, he produced, directed and even composed music for films. Many Hindi actors like
Shashi Kapoor considered him as an asset of the Indian cinema and gave a title ‘Mahanayak’’. Besides being a celebrity, he had done a lot of charitable work for poor and never wanted to be carried away in the waves of admiration.