An Indian actor, producer, director, playback singer, composer, and singer who worked predominantly in the Indian Cinema, Uttam Kumar was known as the Mahanayak of Bengali Cinema. Throughout his career, Uttam Kumar remained a commercial as well as a critical success and is still considered an Indian cultural icon.
With a career spanning over decades, Uttam Kumar did around 200 films starting with 1948’s film Drishtidan. One of Mahanayak’s most applauded films remains Satyajit Ray’s Nayak in 1966. It is widely accepted that Satyajit Ray wrote the script for this film keeping Uttam Kumar in mind. The sense of restlessness and anxiety depicted in the movie closely resembles that of Uttam Kumar’s life, about his superstardom and how he was always worrying about it ending. Years later Satyajit Ray did confess that had Uttam Kumar rejected the script he would have discarded the entire project.
After the epic success of Drishtidan in 1966, Uttam Kumar did another film with Satyajit Ray named Chiriyakhana in 1967.
Mahanayak was one of the Indian artists who liked to explore his boundaries, and indeed he did. Apart from acting, Uttam Kumar tried his hand at different aspects of the entertainment industry such as playback singing, music composition, direction, screenplay writing, and even producing movies. Mahanayak went on to produce quite a few commercial successes like Harano Sur, Saptapadi, Bhrantibilash, Jotugriha, Grihadah, amongst others. All these movies went on to receive great critical acclaim.
The time of Uttam Kumar is considered as The Golden Era of Bengali Cinema. Decades after his death, the re-runs of his films are still watched eagerly, with a fanbase so grand that they’re still going strong even today. There was a time at the height of his popularity when Uttam Kumar was approached by the All India Radio to recite the Chandi Path in the AIR studio; a show that was traditionally done by Birendra Krishna Bhadra. But, being as humble as Mahanayak was, he personally met Birendra Bhadra and apologized. From the next year onwards, the show was once again done by Bhadra.
And while Uttam Kumar romanced quite a few Bengali beauties on screen, his pairing with actress Suchitra Sen has always been admired and adorned on screen more than others. So much so that they together constitute the evergreen and romantic on-screen couple of Bengali Cinema to date. Mahanayak and Suchitra Sen together gave romantic hits like Agni Pariksha, Shipli, Pathe Holo Deri, Harano Sur, Chaowa Paowa, Bipasha, Jiwan Trishna, Sagrika, Trijama, Indrani, Surjyo Toron, Ekti Raat, Grihadaha, Kamallata, Har Mana Har, Alo Amar Alo amongst others.
And while the public loved this on-screen relationship, Uttam Kumar found his off-screen pairing with someone else. Supriya Devi played the lead opposite Uttam Kumar in many movies, and as they started to film frequently together, they got involved off-screen as well. In 1963, Uttam Kumar left his house and stayed with Supriya Devi for the next seventeen years until his demise. Together; Mahanayak and Supriya Devi gave superhits like Uttarayan, Chiradiner, Agni Sanskar, Suno Baranari, Kal Tumi Aleya, Lal Pathor, Andha Atit, Sudhu Ekti Bochhor, Mon Niye, Bilambita Loy, Bhola Maira, Sanyasi Raja, Bon Palashir, Padabali, Bagh Bandir Khela amongst others. You can celebrate Uttam Kumar’s Birthday by listening to his songs, one can download high-quality mp3 songs from saregama website.
Uttam Kumar has restless energy around him. He was constantly on edge and anxious. He would worry about his superstardom ending and hence when one of his self-produced films with Chhoti Si Mulaqat (1967) with Vyjayanthimala did not do well at the box office, Uttam Kumar was affected deeply. Some also consider the failure of this movie as a part of the reason Uttam Kumar suffered a cardiac arrest later in his life. He and Vyjayanthimala had used all of their savings to produce this film and were hoping it does well.
In his personal life, Uttam Kumar was married to Gauri Chatterjee until he left his residence in 1963 to live with Supriya Devi, where he lived for the next seventeen years of his life until his death. While filming the movie Ogo Bodhu Shundori in 1980, Mahanayak suffered a stroke and was admitted to the hospital where the doctors tried hard to save him for the next 16 hours. Sadly, that night on the 24th of July 1980, at the age of 53, Uttam Kumar died.
Uttam Kumar received six B.F.J.A award for Best Actor, in 1955 he earned recognition from the Government of India for Harano Sur, and in 1968 he won the National Film Award for Best Actor for Chiriyakhana and Antony Firingee in the 15th National Film Award where he was the first actor to get that. The very same year when actress Nargis got the best actress award for “Raat Aur Din”. Not only this, Mahanayak left a huge legacy behind. The Tollygunge metro station in Kolkata was renamed the Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Metro Station in his honor. There is also a theatre named after him in Kolkata. And the Indian post released a post stamp featuring Uttam Kumar as a tribute to his legacy that continues even today.
On the occasion of Uttam Kumar’s birthday, Saregama celebrates his contribution to Bengali Cinema.
Now you can listen to the all-time Bengali hits of Uttam Kumar on Saregama Carvaan Bengali. Saregama Carvaan Bengali is a portable digital speaker that comes with 5000 preloaded evergreen songs that you can enjoy anytime without Ad breaks or internet connection. It also consists of other features like Bluetooth, FM/AM radio, USB, and AUX connectivity.
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