A commemorative postage stamp on the Birth Anniversary of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar, a Bengali cinema actor, recipient of First National Film Award for Best Actor in 1967 for his performances in Antony Firingee and Chiriyakhana :
Issued on Sep 3, 2009
Issued for : The Department of Posts is happy to issue a commemorative postage stamp on Uttam Kumar, a tribute to the ‘Mahanayak‘.
Stamp Design & FDC : Sankha Samanta
Cancellation : Alka Sharma
Type : Stamp, Mint Condition
Colour : Multi colour
Denomination : 500 Paise
Stamps Printed : 0.8 Million
Printing Process : Wet–offset
Printer : Security Printing Press, Hyderabad
Name : Arun Kumar Chattopadhyay
Born on Sep 3, 1926 at Ahiritola, Kolkata, India
Died on Jul 24, 1980 at Tollygunge, Kolkata, India
- Arun Kumar Chatterjee popularly known as ‘Uttam Kumar‘ and fondly called “Mahanayak” or the “Great Hero” of Bengali cinema, was a legendary Bengali actor. Born on 3rd September, 1926 at Ahiritola, North Kolkata he was called ‘Uttam‘ by his maternal grandmother. His extended family had its own theatre group, which staged many amateur shows.
- His schooling started in Chakraberia High School and later shifted to South Suburban School. Uttam Kumar‘s acting career began from his childhood. In 1936 young Arun with some of his friends founded a drama group named Lunar Club. There he enacted the first play of his life; Tagore‘s ‘Mukut‘. At the age of 10, he won a trophy for his acting in ‘Gayasur‘. Besides acting, he was also into sports and physical fitness. He took up wrestling, swimming, lathi khela (sparring with wooden sticks), horse riding and tennis. He was the swimming champion at the Bhowanipore Swimming Association for the three years in a row.
- In 1942 he passed Matriculation exam and was admitted to the Government Commercial College. It was the time of the Swadesi Andolan, the period when Indians were struggling for freedom. During that time his compositions were heard in the morning rally. From a very young age he was a good singer, vocal training under Nidanbondhu Bandhopadhyay.
- He went for higher studies in Goenka College of Commerce and Business Administration. After graduation, the financial condition of his family forced him to take up employment as a cashier at the Port Commissioner’s office at Kidderpore in 1944. To supplement his salary, he also gave singing lessons at Chakraberia High School.
- During this period, he acted with amateur theater groups. Initially Uttam Kumar followed the Kolkata theatre scene avidly but his heart, mind and soul were devoted to the Tollygunge Studio. At last he got an opportunity to work as an extra and he first acted in the film “Mayador“ which failed to be released. Uttam‘s first released film was “Drishtidan” (The gift of sight) directed by Nitin Bose. However his breakthrough film was “Sare Chuyattor” (74 and a half) with a young actress called Suchitra Sen.
- He went on to make his mark as an actor, director and producer. Apart from acting in two films with Satyajit Ray, Nayak (The Hero) and Chiriyakhana (The Zoo, 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“, “Amanush“, “Ananda Ashram“, “Kitaab” and “Dooriyan“. Uttam Kumar tried his hand at the popular Hindi films with the off-criticised Chhoti Si Mulakat, a film he produced and starred in. But his towering contribution was to Bengali cinema. Many of his Bengali films were directed by notable directors or directing groups of the sixties and the seventies, such as Agradut, Agragami, and Yatrik. Later in his career, Uttam branched out into producing and directing films such as Bon Palashir Padaboli.
- In 1966, he turned in a much-lauded performance in the Satyajit Ray directed film “Nayak“. When the Indian Government instituted the National Awards for Best Actor and Actress in 1967, Uttam Kumar was the first ever recipient of the Best Actor Award for his performances in “Chiriakhana” directed by Satyajit Ray, and “Antony Firingi” (1967).
- A strict workaholic, he was rumored to have said that his preferred demise would be on the floor of a studio, doing what he loved best : acting. Indeed, that is exactly how he died. While filming the Bengali film Ogo Bodhu Shundori in 1980, he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 54.
- Satyajit Ray uttered the following as a tribute to this Mahanayak; “It is the demise of a leading light of the Bengali film industry… There isn’t – there won’t be another hero like him.“
- Text : Based on material provided by the proponent.