In the film Chourangee Uttam Kumar shook the intellectuals and literary community.
Uttam Kumar’s acting versatility reached the intellectuals of Bengal by mid-60s. His films including Tapan Sinha’s Jotugriha, Satyajit Ray’s Nayak, Ajoy’s Kar’s Saptapadi, ended up being cine-classics which had paved the way for thoughtful filmmaking in the later years. Chowrangee was the landmark literature of writer Shankar which was given expression by director Pinaki Mukherjee.
Released in 1968, the film was related to the life of Grand Hotel in Kolkata. Uttam Kumar was the receptionist of the five star hotel, better known as Sata Bose. Subhendu Chatterji got a job as another receptionist in Grand Hotel, who was groomed and trained by Uttam Kumar.
The striking part of the film lied in the depiction of numerous weird characters in the film who visited Grand Hotel during the 50s and 60s and whose activities could be predicted by Uttam Kumar with his profound experience in the hotel industry. Utpal Dutta played the role of Marco Polo, one of the members of the management of Grand Hotel. He gave the job to Subhendu Chatterji due to request of Dipak Mukherjee whom he knew very well.
The character artists played significant role in the film. Biswajeet Chatterji played the role of Mr. Pakrasi, the son of Deepti Ray, who fell in love with Supriya Choudhury in the film. Bhanu Banerjee played the role of employee in Grand Hotel, Jahar Roy played the role of Chief Chef in the film, Prashanto Kumar played the role of the Violin Player in the film.
Uttam Kumar fell in love with Anjana Bhowmick, an air-hostess who came to visit Grand Hotel a number of times. But at the end of the film when Uttam Kumar left the job and planned to go and settle in Mumbai after marrying Anjana Bhowmick, the last flight of Anjana Bhowmick crashed and the hopes of Uttam Kumar also crashed with the accident.
Ashima Bhattacharya, the producer in the film composed a landmark song for Manna Dey. The song was titled “meghero khela akasho pare”. The remained as one of the greatest hit songs sung by Manna Dey for Uttam Kumar.
The film Chowrangee should be preserved and restored for the classic literature, powerful direction, realistic performances and brilliant music.
Uttam Kumar’s death anniversary brings great memories of the superstar of Bengal.
Again, 24th July, 2019 will bring memories of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar. Superstar Uttam Kumar was remembered on his birth anniversary on 3rd September, 2016. Actor-turned-MPs Dev and Moon Moon Sen would be felicitated with the Mahanayak and Mahanayika Samman, the highest film award given by the West Bengal government.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will give the annual 'Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Samman' at Nazrul Mancha stadium tomorrow to felicitate the actors and technicians of the Bengali film industry.
On her Facebook page, Banerjee said veteran actress Mousumi Chatterjee and reigning Bengali film superstar Dev will be the recipients of this year's 'Mahanayak Samman' while Moonmoon Sen will receive the 'Mahanayika Samman'.
Both Dev and Sen had won the recent Lok Sabha polls on a Trinamool ticket.
The awards were instituted in the year 2012 in the memory of the legendary actor 'Mahanayak' Uttam Kumar.
Actor-director-producer Arindam Sil will be conferred with Special Film Award (Acting).
Special Film Awards will also be presented to actors like Paoli Dam, Hiran Chatterjee, Abir Chatterjee, Indranil Sengupta, Kharaj Mukherjee, Rudranil Ghosh and others.
Veterans of Bengali film industry like Chiranjeet Chakraborty, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Mamata Shankar and Debashree Roy will be feted with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Veteran playback artiste Kumar Sanu will be felicitated with Lifetime Achievement Award for Music (playback Singer) while Special Film Awards (Music Director) will be presented to Sivaji Chattopadhyay, Arundhati Home Chowdhury and Adhir Chatterjee.
Nispal Rane on behalf of Surinder Films will get Special Film award for the best producer. Special film award for direction will be given to Swapan Saha, Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and Prodipto Bhattacharyya. 50 actors had been awarded the Mahanayak Uttam Kumar award on his death anniversary on 24th July, 2013. Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee had started the awards in the memory of the greatest superstar of Bengal Mahanayak Uttam Kumar. Madhabi Mukherjee, Dipankar Dey, Ranjit Mullick and Sandhya Roy had been given lifetime achievement award. Incidentally Madhabi Mukherjee had acted in many super hit films of Uttam Kumar like Shankhabela, Choddobeshi, Agnisshar, etc. and Sandhya Roy had acted in many hit films of Uttam Kumar like Mayamrigo, Surjotapa. Director Goutam Ghosh had also been granted lifetime achievement award.
Actors Partho Mukherjee, Chinmoy Roy, directors Sandip Ray, Raj Chakravarty, Sujit Saha, Koushik Ganguly and Srijit Mukherjee are given special awards. Actors Tapas Pal and Prasenjit Chatterjee are given Mahanayak Samman. Actors Saswata Chatterjee and Parambrata Chatterjee are given special awards. Film Producing companies are also awarded and felicitated including RD Bansal and Company, Arora Films, Shri Venkatesh films, New Theatres, to name a few.
He had died almost 33 years ago, yet the viewers had not forgotten his films and still his presence is felt in the life bengalies in different parts of the world.
In 2011 the Governer of West Bengal launched the 50 rupees postal stamp having the engraving of Uttam Kumar in it. Previously Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar’s faces were engraved in Postal stamps for remembering their contribution to Indian cinema.
Last year, Mamta Banerjee, the Union Railway Minister, renamed the Tollygunge Metro Station as Mahanayak Uttam Kumar station. In 2011, the walls of the Tollygunge Metro Station had been filled with the pictures of films of Uttam Kumar. In fact the people of Tollygunge cannot associate the place without the existence of Uttam Kumar whose works glorified the different studios which carried on the legacy of Bengali Film Industry. Mamta Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal had also provided support to revive the Uttam Mancha and take care of Shilpi Sangsad, an organization created by Mahanayak Uttam Kumar to help the needy actors, actresses, technicians, etc.
Oscar winning director Satyajit Ray acknowledged the dynamic presence of the legendary superstar in Bengali films and made a film Nayak in 1966 based on the story of Uttam Kumar. His original name was Arun Kumar Chatterji, who was a clerk in Port Commission before joining Bengali films.
When he joined films with Drishtidaan in 1948, he had to struggle to create his image as against he established heroes like Asit Boron, Bikash Roy and others. In 1952, his film Basu Paribar struck at the box-office and he overtook Bosonto Choudhury, Asit Boron and became the leading superstar of Bengali films. All the qualities of a romantic hero was possessed by him, including a standard height, good complexion, manly voice, romantic hairstyle and unique dialogue delivery. Any dress suited the legendary superstar including Punjabi, dhoti, coat, Bengali dresses, etc.
He had acted in the films of all the legendary directors of the golden age including Satyajit Ray’s Nayak in 1966, Chiriakhana in 1967, Tapan Sinha’s Jhinder Bandi in 1961, Upahaar in 1955 and Jotugriha in 1964, Ajoy Kar’s Harano Sur in 1957, Saptapadi in 1961, Suno Bara Nari in 1960, Agradoot’s Bipasha in 1962, Surjo Toron in 1958, Agragami’s Sagarika in 1956, Shonkhobela in 1966, to name a few. Uttam Kumar acted opposite all the leading actresses of Bengali celluloid including Suchitra Sen, Arundhuti Debi, Manju Dey, Sabitri Chatterji, Supriya Choudhury, Mala Sinha, and others. His combination with Suchitra Sen had given everlasting classics and both of them still remains the most romantic pair in Indian silver screen.
Uttam Kumar’s films were based on rich literature including Tagore’s Khokababur Protyaborton, Subodh Ghosh’s Suno Bara Nari, Samaresh Bose’s Kuhak, Sorodindu Bondhopadyay’s Chiriakhana, Shankar’s Chourangi. The films were related to different types of stories including comedy stories, tragic stories, soft romantic stories, etc.
Uttam Kumar had acted in around 205 films (including bollywood films like Amanush, Anand Ashram, Choti Si Mulakat, Dooriyan, Kitaab etc., ) in a span of 35 years, and all his films had remained everlasting treasures. Out of his 205 films, around 37 of them ended up being blockbusters, around 50 were super hit films and around 50 were hit films. Actor Shatrughun Sinha in his interview before Bengali media had disclosed that when he was working in Pune Film and Television Institute, the graduates had unanimous view that Uttam Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar were the greatest superstars of celluloid and had Uttam Kumar acted in more number of bollywood films, he would have remained as great a legend as Dilip Kumar or Raj Kapoor.
Even the singers who had sung for him including Manna Dey, Shyamal Mitra, Hemanta Mukherjee, Manobendra Mukherjee, etc., agreed that they did not find any actor who was parallel to Uttam Kumar in giving lips in songs. He made the viewers feel that he only sang the songs.
Actor Shatrughun Sinha in his interview had said that during his student life in Pune Film and Television Institute, the upcoming actors used to debate about the charishma of Uttam Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar. Although there was no unanimity about the finest actor among them, there was consensus about one fact had Uttam Kumar established himself in bollywood films by acting in more number of films, he would have been equally an international figure like Raj Kapoor or Dilip Kumar.
Articles after articles can be devoted to Uttam Kumar who was one –man –industry in Bengali films. His films should be revisited to create motivation for making better quality films in future.
The viewers wish happy birth anniversary of Rajender Kumar on 20th July, 2020. Mohammad Rafi, the eternal singer had sung more than 150 songs for Jubilee Kumar Rajender Kumar. Superstar Rajender Kumar had a deadly combination with Mohammad Rafi and Shankar Jaikishan. Whenever the three combined together they created history.
In Dil Ek Mandir, Rafi’s song “jahan koi nahi” and “yaad na jaye” were created in two different moods. Both the compositions of Shankar Jaikishan were marvelous. Rafi was as outstanding as Rajender Kumar. The film was released in 1963.
Rajender Kumar became Jubilee Kumar for having all his films doing business of more than 25 weeks between 1963 and 1966. Shankar Jaikishan was the leading composer composing majority of his songs. In the film Ayee Milan Ki Bela, released in 1964, all the songs sung by Rafi and picturized on Rajender Kumar became smash hits like “mai pyar ka diwana”, “aha aye Milan ki bela”, “to bura maan gaye”, “tum khamseen ho nadaan ho”, to name a few. In the same year, Rajender Kumar’s Sangam had a masterpiece of Shankar Jaikishan namely “yeh mera prempatra parkar”. The song became the greatest hit of 1964.
The film Zindagi was also released in 1964. Shankar Jaikishan’s brilliant composition for Rafi namely “pehele mile the sapno me” mesmerized the viewers.
In 1965, Shankar Jaikishan created magic in Rajender Kumar’s film Aarzoo. All the songs of Rafi touched the souls of the audience including “chalke teri ankhon se”, “aji humse bachkar kahan jayiyega”, “ai phoolon ki raani”, “aye nargise mastana”, to name a few. The exotic locations of Kashmir, the brilliant costumes of Rajender Kumar and Sadhna, elegant singing of Rafi and brilliance of Shankar Jaikishan created magic.
The deadly combination continued in the film Suraj in 1966. All the songs of Rafi became smash hits like “baharon phool barsao”, “gustaqi maaf”, “kaise samjhaun”, “itna hai tujhse pyar mujhe”, to name a few. Rafi was brilliant in the duet songs as well where Suman Kalyanpur complimented Rafi.
In 1967 and 1968, Rajender Kumar’s films Aman and Jhuk Gaya Aasman became hit due to the brilliant music of Shankar Jaikishan. Rafi’s songs in these films like “surahidar garden”, “aaj ki raat”, “o priya”, “saccha hai agar pyar mera sanam”, “kahan chal diye” stormed bollywood.
Shankar Jaikishan composed music in the other films of Rajender Kumar as well including Aas Ka Panchi, where the title song was sung by Subir Sen, Dharti; where Rafi’s song “khuda bhi aaman se” became smash hit, etc. Rafi contributed in other films Rajender Kumar also where Shankar Jaikishan composed music including Shatranj. The songs and the films should be regularly telecast in the private channels to reach the excellent music to the younger generations.
A big section of music lovers agree that had Jaikishan not died in 1971, Rafi’s dominance in bollywood music not suffered at all. In fact SJ’s tunes were brilliant and were specifically catered towards the likings of common mass. They were not that technical which could not reach the audience. Besides SJ gave tunes in around 10 films per years all along the 50s and 60s, the era when Rafi was unbeatable. RD Burman’s domination in the 70s would have got very strong resistence had Jaikishan survived few years more. The immortal lyrics of Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri also ended with the sad expiry of Jaikishan in 1971.
In the case of Naushad, his gharana was so classically oriented, that his composition for an actor had changed the destiny of the actor. Although Naushad and Rafi’s combination was associated mainly with respect to Tragedy King Dilip Kumar, he preserved a huge treasure of music for Rajender Kumar as well.
Mere Mehboob, stands out as probably one of the greatest creations of Naushad ever in the history of bollywood music. All the songs of Rafi for Rajender Kumar, including “mere mehboob tujhe meri muhobbat ki kasam“, “tumse izhaar-e-haal kar baithe“, “ai husn zara jag tujhe ishq jagaye” had revealed the royal elite culture of Aligarh and Lucknow in the form of shayri and ghazals. Rajender Kumar and Sadhna were at their best in the film.
Naushad and Rafi were sublime in Rajender Kumar’s film Palki. The song “dil-e-betaab ko sine se lagana hoga” shows the class of Naushad. Although Naushad utilized Rafi to perfection in Rajender Kumar’s Ganwar, he used Mukesh in major songs of the film Saathi due to pressure of the producer and director.
Rafi and Rajender Kumar were blessed with the immortal creations of Shankar Jaikishan and Naushad in the 60s and the films and the songs should be preserved as rich assets of the nation which can be cherished for generations after generations.