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Thursday, May 16, 2013
The majestic romantic pair of Uttam Kumar and Arundhuti Debi.
Uttam Kumar in the 50s and 60s acted opposite different actresses, some who were beautiful, like Sumitra Debi, Suchitra Sen, Sharmila Tagore, etc., while others who had wide ranging acting conceptions like Manju Dey, Sabitri Chatterji and others. Arundhuti Debi was one of the highly educated characters whose qualifications were expressed in the characters she had played in a long career spanning over 25 years.
With Uttam Kumar Arundhuti Debi acted in approximately 8 films including Bokul, Shiulibari, Jhinder Bandi, Jotugriha, Nabajanma, Manmayi Girls School, Pushpodhonu and Bicharak. While in Bicharak, she expressed the feelings of a confused sister whose elder sister was married to Uttam Kumar. Uttam Kumar was attracted to Arundhuti Debi and when fire broke out in the house and his first wife Deepti Ray required his help, he declined to help her and allowed her to die. A similar type of case was adjudicated by Uttam Kumar when he was a judge, when Chabi Biswas, the Public Prosecutor talked about the liability of the accused who could have saved the life of his brother, but he did not do so. Uttam Kumar was asked by Arundhuti Debi to examine his own conscience about his liability towards Deepti Roy in Prabhat Mukherjee’s classic film.
Arundhuti Debi and Uttam Kumar showed their comedy conception in the film Manmayi Girl’s School, where they had to pretend to be spouses, because their landlord rented his house to them only on the condition of marriage. But their playacting resulted in an affair with one another. In Pushpadhanu, Arundhuti Debi brought up her husband’s child after he deserted her and got attached with Uttam Kumar who understood the feelings of an established dancer who got recognition but was a loner.
Jhinder Bandi was made with the historical touch of Prisoner of Zenda and Tapan Sinha astonished the viewers with his treatment in the Indian context. The royal style of living of Rajputs was well demonstrated by both Uttam Kumar and Arundhuti Debi. Shiulibari was directed by Pijus Bose, who utilized the talent of Uttam Kumar and Arundhuti in a story based on the life of villagers of West Bengal.
Jotugriha, directed by Tapan Sinha, was probably the most successful film of Uttam Kumar and Arundhuti Debi. In that film lack of begetting a child led to disharmony of the married couple. Both Uttam Kumar and Arundhuti Debi got separated and even after separation never lost the respect of each other. The story ends with both the spouses travelling in to trains which crossed each other. The level of performance of both Uttam Kumar and Arundhuti Debi, was such that there were no Indian actor or actress who could match the standard of performance.
Uttam Kumar was the greatest superstar of Bengali cinema and became one-man industry in the 70s. Critics argue that no Indian star other than Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor had the individual charishma which Uttam Kumar had and if his Hindi films clicked he could have created serious competition for the stars of 60s. But Arundhuti Debi’s films with Uttam Kumar were so rich in literature, script and performance that critics argue that the combination addressed the concerns of intellectual audience of the country more than any other combination. The films should be restored for their aesthetic value.