Mahanayak Uttam Kumar’s Grand Contribution To Bengali Cinema


Kolkata: Uttam Kumar 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. We celebrate his birth anniversary today.

Uttam Kumar had been an actor, director and producer. Apart from acting in two films with Satyajit Ray, Nayak (The Hero) and Chiriyakhana (The Zoo,uttamk2 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”.

A study of Bangla cinema is never complete without the man Bengali has named ‘Mahanayak’ so lovingly. Uttam Kumar, the numero uno actor of Bengal A.K.A India was the pioneer of the golden era of Bangla cinema. The magic that started in the 40’s with his arrival on the silver screen, is yet to fade away. Satyajit Ray considered him as a phenomenon and so did the other prominent personalities of his time. On his 90th birth anniversary, we enlist what these ten great authors, directors, and actors had said about the actor.

It was Uttam Kumar, who introduced the modern school of acting in Tollywood and Satyajit Ray put Bengali movies on the international map. The legendary director’s ‘Nayak’ and ‘Chiriyakhana’ are two most significant films in Mahanayak’s career. Ray’s homage to the actor describes Uttam Kumar’s undying place in the film industry.


Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen, the golden pair established, defined, and immortalized the romance on the silver screen like no-one else. The pair did more than thirty movies together and most of them went on to become iconic hits of Bangla cinema.


Uttam Kumar or Soumitra Chatterjee – who is the finest actor of Bangla cinema? – This is an age old debate which is yet to find a specific answer. The media have declared them as each other’s biggest competitor, but the later has always looked up to the former for his work.

One of the most acclaimed Bollywood actor of his time, Dilip Kumar was an admirer of Uttam Kumar’s acting. On the other hand, Mahanayak would often compliment ‘Sagina Mahato’ actor’s style of method acting.

Uttam Kumar has done ‘Jhinder Bandi’ and ‘Jotugriha’ under the direction of Tapan Sinha. When talked about the star, the national award winning director called Uttam an actor belonging to the finest league.


Whenever Raj Kapoor talked about Uttam Kumar, he spoke highly of him. Kapoor offered him a role in ‘Sangam’ which was later played by Rajendra Kumar. Although, the two never got any other chance of sharing the screen, the ‘Mera Naam Joker’ star remained an admirer of his talent.


Rajesh Khanna, who played the lead in ‘Amar Prem’, the Hindi remake of Uttam Kumar starrer ‘Nishipadma’ revealed he had watched “Nishipadma” some 16 times. The superstar confessed that he would consider himself lucky if he had achieved at least 50 percent of what Uttam Kumar had done in it.

Mahanayak, a soon-to-be-launched tele series, revolves around the life of the greatest actor Bengali movie has ever seen – Uttam Kumar. And who else but our very own Bumbada to play the revered icon? So, when it was announced that Prosenjit Chatterjee will be seen in the role of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar, both the actors’ fans could not hold their excitement.