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About Uttam Kumar

Male actor Uttam Kumar from India, famous due to tollywood

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Uttam Kumar (Bangla ) (3 September 1926 - 24 July 1980) born as Arun Kumar Chatterjee; was a legendary Bengali actor. He is fondly called the Mahanayak or the "Great Hero" of Bengali cinema. He was born Arun Kumar Chatterjee on 3 September 1926 in Kolkata.

He had been an actor, director and producer. Apart from acting in two films with Satyajit Ray, Nayak (The Hero) and Chiriyakhana (The Zoo, a thriller written by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, in which he played the famous Bengali detective Byomkesh Bakshi), he has acted in some Hindi films like "Chhoti si Mulaqat" (with Vyjayantimala Bali), "Amanush" (with Sharmila Tagore), "Ananda Ashram" (with Sharmila Tagore), "Kitaab" and "Dooriyan".

Early life

Uttam Kumar was born in Kolkata in his ancestral house in Girish Mukherjee Road, Bhowanipore. After his schooling in South Suburban School (Main), he went for higher studies in Goenka College of Commerce and Business Administration, an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta system. However, he couldn't complete his studies as he started working at the Kolkata Port as a clerk. During this period, he acted for amateur theater groups.

Film debut

Uttam's first released film was Drishtidan (The gift of sight) directed by Nitin Bose, though he worked in an earlier unreleased film called Mayador (Embrace of affection). He came into promonence in the film Basu Paribar and his breakthrough film was Sare Chuyattor (74 and a half) with a young actress called Suchitra Sen. This romantic comedy launched the career of the greatest romantic duo to grace the Bangla film industry.


Uttam-Suchitra have ever since been a household name. Some of Uttam's famous films co-starring, with Suchitra include Saptapadi (Seven Steps), Pathe Holo Deri (Delay on the road), Harano Sur (Lost Music), Chaoa Paoa (Wish and Achievement), Bipasha (Bipasha), Jiban Trishna (Thirst for Life) and Sagarika (Sagarika). It is however debatable as whether on-screen chemistry between the two actors translated to off-screen romance.[citation needed]

Branching out

Uttam Kumar tried his hand at the popular Bombay/Hindi film with the oft-criticised box office bomb Chhoti Si Mulakat, a film he produced and starred in, among others that were better received. But his towering contribution was to Bengali cinema, or Tollywood (as it is primarily located in Tollygunge in South Kolkata). Many of his Bengali films were directed by notable directors or directing groups of the sixties and the seventies, such as Agradut, Agragami, and Yatrik. Arguably, one of his most lauded appearances was in Satyajit Ray's Nayak (film) (The Hero). It has been rumored that Ray wrote the script with Uttam in mind. Later in his career, Uttam branched out into producing and directing much-lauded films such as Bon Palashir Padaboli.

He had a huge phenomenal fan base which continues even to this day. Reruns of his films on television twenty seven years after his death is still eagerly watched. Uttam Kumars time is considered by many as the golden age of Bengali (West Bengal)cinema.

Off screen romance(s)

Uttam Kumar's affair with Supriya Debi was the only one that has been validated as they lived together for several years. Although his on-screen chemistry with Suchitra Sen is legendary, their alleged romance has never been substantiated. It is suspected that most of it was the figment of the public's and media's collective imagination. Sabitri Chatterjee, another of his heroines was treated like a very young little sister by Uttam. She has stated in numerous interviews that Uttam would scold her as if she were a little child!


A strict workaholic, he was rumored to have said that his preferred demise would be on the floor of a studio, doing what he loved best, acting. Indeed, that is exactly how he died. While filming the Bengali film Ogo Bodhu Shundori in 1980, he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 54.

Uttam Kumar's funeral -- mourned by hundreds of thousands of Bengalis spilling into the streets as a slow-moving procession with his garlanded body moved along the major arteries of Calcutta -- was an elaborate, yet ultimately a simple affair. With his passing, Bengal marked the end of an era as Tollygunge (the area in Calcutta where most of the film studios are located) slowly but inexorably transformed itself into Tollywood (marked by a slavish imitation of Bollywood).

As for actors -- to date, and arguably, there has appeared in Tollywood no adequate replacement with comparable star power, box office magnetism, as well as acting acumen. Some of his films like "NishiPadmo" were copied into Bollywood blockbusters like Amar Prem starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. Awards and Achievements:

In 1966, he turned in a much-lauded performance in the Satyajit Ray directed film Nayak. When the Indian Government instituted the National Awards for Best Actor and Actress in 1967, Uttam Kumar was the first ever recipient of the Best Actor Award for his performances in Chiriakhana directed by Satyajit Ray, and Antony Firingi (1967).


Uttam Kumar was the eldest among three brothers. His second brother Barun Kumar Chatterjee died young. However, his youngest brother Tarun Kumar Chatterjee (screen name Tarun Kumar) has acted in numerous Bengali feature films and considered a character actor of considerable repute. Tarun Kumar often paired onscreen with his real life wife, character actress Subrataa Chatterjee. The films where Uttam Kumar and Tarun Kumar have starred together include Saptapadi, Mayamriga, Agnishwar etc.

Uttam Kumar's only son Gautam (a businessman, who had no link with films) died of cancer.

His grandson Gaurav is now an actor in Bengali movies.


See Filmography of Uttam Kumar


"It is the demise of a leading light of the Bengali film industry…There isn't - there won't be another hero like him." -- Satyajit Ray

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