Uttam Kumar (Arun Kumar Chatterjee)

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Posted: 15 years ago
 
 
By Syed Badrul Ahsan
UTTAM KUMAR
Ei poth jodi na shesh hoy…

The very name of Uttam Kumar would bring back memories in many of us. Memories of times that were filled with youthful effervescence and idealistic escapades of the most transcendent nature; he brings back memories of sleepy sub-divisional towns, red krishnachura blooms and ponds immersed in placidity. He brings back memories of the whistle of the old steam engine and murmur of the ancient jhaau tree behind the little railway station. And he also brings back memories of innocuous cinema posters on walls near the small and only cinema hall in the town. Young people stood beside the walls to look at the posters of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen in films like Shapmochan, Shagarika, Harano Sur and so on, writes Shahnoor Wahid
 

Uttam Kumar is now on a journey on a never-ending road going beyond the rainbow. On July 24 we remembered Uttam Kumar, one of the finest actors of Bengali cinema, who had passed away 25 years ago. On that sad day we found some time to contemplate in solitude how this great performer had filled a void and elevated Bengali cinema to international level single handedly with his acting talent, debonair looks and commitment. He brought novelty and innovation in acting and dialogue delivery in Bengali cinema for the first time. In fact, Uttam Kumar was in Bengal what Dilip Kumar and Rajkapur were in Bombay and Gregory Peck and Clark Gable were in Hollywood. They were the icons of cinema in the fifties - idolized, admired, imitated and loved by millions of fans. In Bengal, Uttam Kumar reigned supreme as the protagonist in the romantic melodramas pairing with some of the most beautiful and talented female stars of his time such as Suchitra Sen, Savitri Chatterjee, Supriya Chatterjee, Mala Sinha and Tanuja. It is no exaggeration that he was the undisputed king of the Bengali silver screen for nearly three decades. Many would say that the void that Uttam Kumar once filled has come back again in the Bengali cinema after his death.
   The very name of Uttam Kumar would bring back memories in many of us. Memories of times that were filled with youthful effervescence and idealistic escapades of the most transcendent nature; he brings back memories of sleepy sub-divisional towns, red krishnachura blooms and ponds immersed in placidity. He brings back memories of the whistle of the old steam engine and murmur of the ancient jhaau tree behind the little railway station. And he also brings back memories of innocuous cinema posters on walls near the small and only cinema hall in the town. Young people stood beside the walls to look at the posters of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen in films like Shapmochan, Shagarika, Harano Sur and so on. People watched those posters and found the smile of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen touching their hearts and touching their lives. In a quiet sub-divisional town a cinema like Shapmochan or Shagarika was something out of the world for the people who had no other mode of entertainment. In the film, when Uttam Kumar laughed they all laughed. When Uttam Kumar felt dejected they all felt dejected. No wonder those who could afford the money went to see one such film twenty or thirty times in one month.
   Uttam Kumar introduced totally his own brand of acting and mannerism in Calcutta movies. Unlike his predecessors, he kept his head high when delivering a romantic dialogue or one filled with pathos. And in both times he looked straight into the eyes of his female protagonist or heroine, as is popularly called. In the Bengali films, before Uttam came into the scene, the male protagonist usually looked at the floor or at his own hands when saying something romantic, or delivering tear-jerking dialogue before parting with the heroine. In the past, heroes wept openly to depict the pain they suffered when turned down by the heroine or her father. It was done to project the good boy image of the love-stricken hero and to evoke empathy in the audience. But one will notice that Uttam never wept, no one ever saw tears rolling down his cheeks, or going hysterical over the loss of his lover. Instead, we saw him tightening his jaws and walking out of the house of a rude man, the father of the heroine or grandfather (Pathey Holo Deri, for example), with his head high in the air and without looking back for once. And he walked out not limping. He walked out with long and strong strides. The frown on his broad forehead spoke volumes about the pain he harboured in his heart. Whether he was doing the role of a poor man or a rich man, Uttam Kumar injected personality in the character, and no one could do it the way he did. Such subtlety, such refinement, such infusion of strength in the characters made him the consummate actor that he was.
   Uttam Kumar was also at ease when doing comical roles. He had that uncanny sense of humour, that touch of naughtiness in him that has been exploited so well by directors in many films. Remember the scene from Prithibi Amarey Chai where both Uttam and Mala Sinha go on the edge of the lake to commit suicide? In that scene he feels pity for the lonesome girl and in a bid to save her from doing what she intended to do asks her whether she had any previous experience of committing suicide by jumping into a pond or a lake? When she said she did not, he told her that he had the experience and then went on to say how she would feel once she would jump into the cold water and start going down and down, how strange creatures would nibble at her feet and all that. This part of the movie always invoked laughter in the audience.
   When he was at the peak of success as the male lead actor in Bengali cinema, Uttam Kumar did not hesitate to do a side role in the film Mayamriga. The lead role was given to debutant Biswajeet. But, it was Uttam Kumar who stole the show with his cameo appearance as a happy-go-lucky unemployed man who enjoyed betting on horses. Who can forget the scene where he sang "Shone Shone Gero Baaz, Akashta Pero Aaj…"? Who can forget his superb acting in Shagarika when the principal of the medical college tears up his scholarship papers and throws him out of college for something he did not do intentionally. He did not have to weep to show his emotional turmoil, but the audience wept at his misfortune. Bengali cinema lovers would remember his powerful acting in films like Shobar Uparey, Shapmochan and Harano Sur. We still remember that measured dialogue in the film Harano Sur when he tells Suchitra Sen, "….Koutuhol thaka bhalo tobey taar ekta shimarekha thaka dorkar…", which roughly means 'it is good to have curiosity but a line has to be drawn somewhere.'
   Talking about Uttam Kumar and his movies would remain incomplete if we do not say a few words about the songs he sang on the silver screen. His face and voice effortlessly blended with the voice of maestro Hemant Kumar and the two became inseparable as best of friends. Songs like Surer Akashey Tumi Jeygo Shuktara..or Boshey Achhi Potho Cheye Fagunero Gaan Geye Joto Bhabi Bhuley Jabo Mono Manena…or.. Jhor Uthechey Baul Batash….remains so hauntingly popular even four decades later.
   
   The early days
   Uttam Kumar was born Arun Kumar Chatterjee in 1926. The name Uttam, meaning best, was given by his grandmother and through his sheer talent and determination he proved to be the best indeed in Bengali cinema. Besides taking private lessons on acting he took a lot of interest in physical fitness. He was good in horse riding and playing tennis and badminton. From one of his biographers we have come to know that he was the swimming champion at the Bhowanipur Swimming Association three years in a row. It might sound new to many new generation readers, but it is on record that Uttam Kumar wanted to be a singer at one stage. He did take lessons in classical singing and tried his luck as a singer. He also gave singing lessons to students as a private tutor and that is how he met his first wife Gouri Devi.
   Uttam Kumar's first release was the Bengali film Drishdidaan which was released in 1948. In that film he used the name Arun Kumar. The film proved to be a disaster at the box office and the next one titled Kamana also did poorly as far as business was concerned. After this, people in the industry began to call him 'flop master'. He, however, was able to show glimpses of his acting talent in the film Basu Parivar and the year was possibly 1951 or 1952. Savitri Chatterjee was in the female lead and the film turned out to be a big hit.
   Uttam Kumar only had to wait for another year or two to see success knock on his door. In 1953, Agnipariksha was released and since then Uttam did not have to look behind. As said by some writers the 'Golden era of Bengali Cinema' began with the appearance of Uttam Kumar the star in the firmament of Bengali cinema.

(Uttam Kumer died on July 24, 1980)

Edited by Qwest - 15 years ago
Posted: 15 years ago

Bengali Cinema

Uttam Kumar (Arun Kumar Chatterjee)

 


Uttam Kumar was "the" super star of Bengali cinema and the most popular Bengali film hero. Was born in 1926 at Calcutta. Original name was Arun Kumar Chatterjee. Passed Matriculation Examination from South Suburban School and got admitted into Goenka College. Could not complete graduation. Took a clerical job in Calcutta Port Commission.
The first released movie was dristidaan directed by Nitin Bose released in 1948. Prior to that acted in mayador which was never released. The first appearance with Suchitra Sen was in the comedy movie saarey chuattor in 1953. The movie was a big hit and from that time onwards, Uttam-Suchitra combination brought golden age of commercial Bengali cinema. Uttam Kumar's performance in Satyajit Ray's movie Nayak was remarkable. He also starred in another Ray movie - chiriakhana. For a brief time he acted in professional theatre also. In 1955, he took part in the drama Shyamali in Star Theatre. Uttamkumar died in 1980.



 

Edited by Chalavanth - 15 years ago
Posted: 15 years ago

Video Clips(Real Player) from Uttamkumar Movies


Nayak

 http://www.calcuttaweb.com/cinema/uttam.htm#

 

Saptapadi'

 

http://www.calcuttaweb.com/cinema/uttam.htm#

 

Bhrantibilas

http://www.calcuttaweb.com/cinema/uttam.htm#

Edited by Chalavanth - 15 years ago
Posted: 15 years ago

Thank you dada & Dolly.Uttam kumar is a very revered name in my house. My mom , grandmon all are crazy for him. I have seen some films of his too. He took romance to special heights.

He could carry off  the roles to perfection without any hitch, be it the serious roles , the comic roles or the romantic roles. One of my favoutire of his is the bengali version of the movie, chupke chuke (I forget the bengali name yet again) and the ullu that he made of the jijaji...LOL His famous business idea "mora haathi laakh taaka" to the driver...just awesome.

Posted: 15 years ago
Thanks Dolly for for the video clips of Uttam Kumar Movies.
Posted: 15 years ago
"
"Ei Poth Jodi Na Shesh Hoy, Tobe Kemon Hoto Tumi Boloto?
Jodi Prithibita Shopner Desh Hoy, Tobe Kemon Hoto Tumi Boloto?"
Edited by Qwest - 15 years ago
Posted: 15 years ago
Runa Edited by Qwest - 15 years ago
Posted: 15 years ago

Edited by Qwest - 15 years ago

Uttam Kumar


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