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উত্তম কুমার
Uttam Kumar ‌

Uttam Kumar
Born Arun Kumar Chatterjee
September 3, 1926(1926-09-03)
Ahiritola, Kolkata, West Bengal
Died July 24, 1980 (aged 53)
Tollygunge, Kolkata, West Bengal
Occupation Actor, Producer, Director, Music Director, Singer
Years active 1948 to 1980
Spouse(s) Gauri Chatterjee

Uttam Kumar (Bangla: উত্তম কুমার ) (3 September 1926 - 24 July 1980) born as Arun Kumar Chatterjee; was an eminent Bengali actor from India. 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 Dooriyaan.


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 Sharey Chuattor (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), Chaowa Paowa (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.

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 nine 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 55.

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 an 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.

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 a decade back. 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 Subrata Chatterjee. The films where Uttam Kumar and Tarun Kumar have starred together include Saptapadi, Mayamriga, Agnishwar, Deya Neya 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, though he isn't as famous as the great man himself.

It is known that he was family to Pulak Bandyopadhyay, the famous lyricist. Bandhopadhyay was his uncle, according to records, and he is thus a member of the Salkia House.

Selected Filmography

See Filmography of Uttam Kumar

1948 ---- Drishtidan
1949 ---- Kamona
1950 ---- Marjada
1951 ---- Sahajatri
1951 ---- Nastanir
1951 ---- O re Jatri
1952 ---- Sanjeevani
1952 ---- Kaar Paape
1952 ---- Basu Paribar
1953 ---- Sharey Chuattor
1953 ---- Lakh Taka
1953 ---- Bou Thakuranir Haat
1953 ---- Nabin Jatra
1954 ---- Maraner Pare
1954 ---- Ora Thake Odhare
1954 ---- Chapadangar Bou
1954 ---- Annapurnar Mandir
1954 ---- Agnipariksha
1954 ---- Maner Mayur
1954 ---- Grihaprabesh
1954 ---- Bakul
1954 ---- Mantrashakti
1954 ---- Kalyani
1955 ---- Sabar Upare
1955 ---- Raikamal
1955 ---- Saajher Pradip
1955 ---- Debatra
1955 ---- Anupama
1956 ---- Saheb Bibi Golam
1956 ---- Sanakr Narayan Bank
1956 ---- Sagarika
1956 ---- Chirakumar Sabha
1956 ---- Ekti Raat
1956 ---- Shyamali
1956 ---- Lakshaheera
1956 ---- Trijama
1956 ---- Putrabadhu
1956 ---- Shilpi
1956 ---- Nabajanma
1957 ---- Haranu Sur
1957 ---- Prithibi Amare Chay
1957 ---- Baradidi
1957 ---- Surer Parash
1957 ---- Jatra Holo Suru
1957 ---- Tasher Ghar
1957 ---- Punarmilan
1957 ---- Chandranath
1957 ---- Abhayer Biye
1957 ---- Pathe Holo Deri
1957 ---- Harjeet
1957 ---- Jeeban Trishna
1958 ---- Indrani
1958 ---- Bandhu
1958 ---- Joutuk
1958 ---- Shikar
1958 ---- Suryatoran
1958 ---- Rajlakshmi O Srikanta
1958 ---- Manmoyee Girls School
1958 ---- Daktarbabu
1959 ---- Marutirtha Hinglaj
1959 ---- Chaowa Pawoa
1959 ---- Bicharak
1959 ---- Sonar Harin
1959 ---- Pushpadhanu
1959 ---- Gali Theke Rajpath
1959 ---- Khelaghar
1959 ---- Abak Prithibi
1960 ---- Khokababur Pratyabartan
1960 ---- Haat Baralei Bandhu
1960 ---- Mayamriga
1960 ---- Kuhak
1960 ---- Rajasaja
1960 ---- Sakher Chor
1960 ---- Uttar Megh
1960 ---- Saharer Itikatha
1960 ---- Shuno Baranari
1961 ---- Jhinder Bandi
1961 ---- Saptapadi
1961 ---- Dui Bhai
1961 ---- Saathihara
1961 ---- Agnisanskar
1961 ---- Neckless
1962 ---- Bipasha
1962 ---- Kanna
1962 ---- Siulibari
1963 ---- Bhrantibilas
1963 ---- Suryasikha
1963 ---- Deya Neya
1963 ---- Nisithe
1963 ---- Sesh Anka
1963 ---- Uttarayan
1964 ---- Jatugriha
1964 ---- Laal Pathar
1964 ---- Momer Alo
1964 ---- Bibhas
1964 ---- Natun Tirtha
1965 ---- Thana Theke Aaschhi
1965 ---- Raajkanya
1965 ---- Suryatapa
1966 ---- Nayak
1966 ---- Sankhabela
1966 ---- Kaal Tumi Aleya
1966 ---- Shudhu Ekti Bachhar
1966 ---- Rajadrohi
1967 ---- Naayika Sangbad
1967 ---- Chiriakhana
1967 ---- Anthoni Phiringi
1967 ---- Jeeban Mrityu
1968 ---- Teen Adhyay
1968 ---- Chowrangee
1968 ---- Kakhano Megh
1968 ---- Garh Nasimpur
1969 ---- Chirodiner
1969 ---- Sabarmati
1969 ---- Man Niye
1969 ---- Aparichito
1969 ---- Shuksari
1969 ---- Kamallata
1970 ---- Nishipadma
1970 ---- Bilambita Loy
1970 ---- Duti Mon
1970 ---- Rajkumari
1970 ---- Kalankita Nayak
1970 ---- Manjari Apera
1971 ---- Chhadmabesi
1971 ---- Joyjayanti
1971 ---- Ekhane Pinjor
1971 ---- Dhannyi Meye
1971 ---- Jiban Jiggasa
1971 ---- Nabaraag
1972 ---- Memsaheb
1972 ---- Andha Atit
1972 ---- Biraj Bou
1972 ---- Alo Amar Alo
1972 ---- Stree
1972 ---- Haar Mana Haar
1972 ---- Chhinnapatra
1973 ---- Sonar Khacha
1973 ---- Bonpalashir Padabali
1973 ---- Raudrachhaya
1973 ---- Raater Rajanigandha
1973 ---- Kayaheener Kaahini
1974 ---- Amanush
1974 ---- Bikele Bhorer Phul
1974 ---- Raktatilak
1974 ---- Jadi Jantem
1974 ---- Alor Thikana
1974 ---- Jadibangsha
1974 ---- Rodan Bhara Basanta
1975 ---- Agniswar
1975 ---- Mouchak
1975 ---- Kajallata
1975 ---- Ami Se O Sakha
1975 ---- Nagar Darparne
1975 ---- Priyo Bandhabi
1976 ---- Banhisikha
1976 ---- Nidhiram Sardar
1976 ---- Hotel Snow Fox
1976 ---- Sei Chokh
1976 ---- Anandamela
1976 ---- Mombati
1976 ---- Chander Kachhakaachhi
1977 ---- Ananda Ashram
1975 ---- Sannyasi Raja
1977 ---- Sabyasachi
1977 ---- Rajbangsha
1977 ---- Bhola Moyra
1977 ---- Sister
1978 ---- Dui Purush
1978 ---- Bandi
1978 ---- Nishan
1978 ---- Dhanraj Tamang
1979 ---- Debdas
1979 ---- Srikanter Will
1979 ---- Samadhan
1979 ---- Brajabuli
1979 ---- Sunayani
1979 ---- Naba Diganta
1980 ---- Dui Prithibi
1980 ---- Raja Saheb
1980 ---- Pakhhiraj
1980 ---- Darpachurna
1980 ---- Aaro Ekjon
1980 ---- Ogo Badhu Sundari
1980 ---- Khana Barah
1980 ---- Pratishodh
1980 ---- Kalankini Kankabati
1980 ---- Suryasakkhi
1981 ---- Iman Kalyan

12 Films With Highest Running Success At Release

1.Sagarika(1956 - 24 weeks

2.Mayamriga(1960) - 18 weeks

3.Nishipadma(1970 - 17 weeks

4.Chadmabeshi(1971) - 18 weeks

5.Stri(1972)- 24 weeks

6.Banpalashir Padabali(1973) - 17 weeks

7.Amanush(1974) - 32 weeks

8.Ami Se o Sakha(1975) - 26 weeks

9.Mouchak(1975) - 17 weeks

10.Sannyasi Raja(1975) - 18 weeks

11.Ananda Ashrama(1977) - 26 weeks

12.Ogo Badhu Sundori(1981) - 23 weeks

Late journalist Rintu Mukherjee in his " Khanojonma Uttam" did map out the incredible bankability of ths star. From 1947 to 1980, both in Bengali and Hindi, Uttam Kumar acted in 202 films. Among them 39 were blockbusters, 57 were superhits, 57 made profits above the average and the rest flop.


"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

"I personally felt that the acting of Uttam Kumar could be compared to the best actor of any country. His great attribute is his diligence...Many are born with talent, but the talent gets eclipsed due to the lack of diligence. Uttam Kumar has both of them. Perhaps, that is the reason why he still sparkles." -- Tapan Sinha

"Uttam is my friend. In a word, he is a great,great artist. But still sometimes i feel as if he is not properly exploited." -- Suchitra Sen

"Uttam was a great human can easily be underscored -- actor of his class is a rare kind" -- Shakti Samanta

"...slowly Uttam Kumar got popular. And a fairy tale was born. I was never bothered to know the individual self of the romantic hero of this fairy tale. I would never want to. What if the dream gets shattered! Let the beautiful spell be alive!Long live Uttam Kumar -- The evergreen romatic hero." -- Madhabi Mukherjee

" It feels good to see all praising one. Uttam is one such person...He never had any pose or pretension...God gave him everything but a friend." -- Kanan Devi

" Uttam Kumar,the numero uno hero of Bengal,the most loving." -- Samaresh Basu

" Sri Uttam Kumar is not merely the actor, I regard him as the creator of character.May be as the creator of character,he has achieved such stupendous popularity." -- Bimal Mitra

" He is the hero and life of many of my fictions." -- Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay

" Uttam!An extraordinary artist!The artistic self of Uttam Kumar never dies down!Oh God give him Uttam health,Uttam strength, Uttam longevity(in Sanskrit and in Bengali, 'Uttam' means 'good')-- Ashapoorna Devi

" In Uttam Kumar we have found a director who shows his brilliance on diverse levels." -- Hindustan Standard (on Uttam Kumar's directorial debut)



  • B.F.J.A Best Actor Award for Hrod(1955)
  • Recognition from the Government of India for Harano Sur(1957)
  • B.F.J.A Best Actor award for Saptopadi(1961). Uttam Kumar received the award from the legendary film-maker Debaki Bose.
  • B.F.J.A Best Actor award for Nayak(1966). Attended the Berlin Film Festicval as the distinguished guest.
  • The very first recipient of the 'Bharat' award in the Best Actor category for both 'Chiriyakhana' and 'Antony Firingi'(1967).
  • B.F.J.A Best Actor award for 'Grihadha'(1967).
  • B.F.J.A Best Actor award for 'Ekhane Pinjar'(1971).
  • Best Actor award from 'Prosad'magazine for 'Stri'(1973). He received the award from Kanan Devi.
  • B.F.J.A Best Actor award for 'Amanush'(1974).
  • Best Actor Filmfare Award for 'Amanush'(1975).
  • He received the Best Actor award for the same film from the Government of West Bengal on January 26,1975.The price was worth 5000 rupees. Uttam Kumar donated the whole sum to the impoverished artists'fund.
  • B.F.J.A Best Actor award for 'Bahnisikha'(1976).
  • Best Actor award both from the 'Prosad' magazine and Sanonskritik Sanbadik Sanostha for 'Ananda Ashram'(1977).


" I prefer following my own ways of acting, like the ways we talk, get angry,that kind of natural spontaneous acting. More of portraying a character."

" Sometimes I got scared. So much of accolade -- would they last for long?And that is why I was not ready to get carried away in the waves of admiration. I desire for more work."

" I never fear work. Rater i derive pleasure out of work."

External links


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