Uttam Kumar (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".
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.
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.
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).