Out of site, not out of Mind: Uttam Kumar the ‘Uncrowned’ king

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In fact, just as the media coined the term ‘Superstar’ for Rajesh Khanna, Uttam Kumar come in mind immediately when anyone utters the word ‘Nayak’.

“Gaaner Bhubon Bhorea Debe
Bhabe chilo ekti Pakhi”- the famous lyrics of Deya Neya
Black-and-white romance came to be art-de-rigueur of Uttam Kumar’s stardom. Born as Arunkumar Chattopadhyay, Uttam Kumar promoted and represented a self-conscious crossover cinema, which was to be found in the neighborhood of melodrama and his movie evolved in every step. His body of work transcended generic divisions and never failed to impress the theatrical audience.
It has been 38 years since Arunkumar aka Uttam Kumar breathed his last, felt his memories and his aura here. But, for many Bengalee, time perhaps stopped that night on 24th July 1980. No doubt there have been many stars- Soumitra, Tarun Kumar, Victor Banerjee, Bishojit, but if there was ever a true-blue ‘Nayak’ in Bengali cinema, it’s Uttam Kumar. He could perfectly embody O.E. Klapp’s figurations of the romantic hero-the Average-The good-the evil in one single role. Well, the reason behind Uttam Kumar turning into an incomparable movie star is, he never daunted by the inadequacy of his origins, he turned it into an asset.
Instead of following his predecessors, he used his talent, ordinariness and effortless style in his performance. And that became his signature! After appearing in movies his average looks became a magnet of affection, style, and class. His manner of romance, his smile of idolatry, his way of delivering dialogue turned Bengali cinema upside down. Kumar became the man of a dream for all the dames and young lads. Nayak’s fate drastically took a U-turn with the success of ‘Agni Pariksha’, ‘Sare Chuattor’, ‘Harano Sur’, ‘Pathe Holo Deri’ with Suchitra Sen.
In fact, just as the media coined the term ‘Superstar’ for Rajesh Khanna, Uttam Kumar comes to mind immediately when anyone utters the word ‘Nayak’. On his 95th Birth Anniversary, Jiyo Bangla pays a small token of respect to the ‘uncrowned’ king of romance – Uttam Kumar, may he dwell in our mind even after a thousand year.

By: Riya Siddhacharjee

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