Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chatterji.
There was a popular debate in the 60s about who was a superior actor of Bengali films Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chatterji. The debate did arise because Soumitra acted in the films of one of the greatest directors of world cinema Satyajit Ray. His performance in the films Apur Sangsar, Sonar Kella, Joy Baba Felunath, Abhijaan, were highly appreciated by the intellectual audience.
Where as Uttam Kumar was the greatest charishmatic hero who could perform in any type of role including zamindar in the film Stri, Sanyasi Raja. He played the role of king in the film Zinder Bandi. Who played the double role in Bhranti Bilas and in the serio-comic subject matter showed his comedy skills. No Indian actor had given better lips in songs like Uttam Kumar. He received even national award for best performance in the film Antony Firingi where all the songs sung by Manna Dey were master-pieces.
In fact the entire Bengali film industry revolved around Uttam Kumar, as Hemant Kumar, Shaymal Mitra, Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar got success in Bengali films by giving playback for Uttam Kumar. The best directors of Bengal like Ajoy Kar, Tapan Sinha, Pinaki Mukherjee, Agradut, Agragami could experiment in Bengali films only due to Uttam Kumar. The careers of best actresses of Bengali films like Suchitra Sen, Arundhuti Debi, Sabitri Chatterji, were related to Uttam Kumar as they complimented his powerful performances. Lastly the tremendous performance of Chabi Biswas, Bikash Roy, Kali Banerjee were associated with epic films where Uttam Kumar played the central character.
Soumitra Chatterjee was a very cultured, educated, soft personality and is still respected for his selective performances by every section of the society. But Uttam Kumar was the uncrowned monarch and the debate was resolved by Satyajit Ray himself by casting Uttam Kumar in the epic film Nayak, where he showed he was unparallel matinee idol. Instead of proving the greater worth of both actors, the viewers should appreciate their performances and their films should be restored and preserved.