He was legendary, his screen presence and charisma hypnotizes the audience even today. Uttam Kumar was “the” super star of Bengali cinema and the most popular Bengali film actor ever. Uttam Kumar was born on September 3, 1926 to Saatkari and Chapala Chatterjee at Ahiritola in North Kolkata. His original name was Arun Kumar Chatterjee. He grew up in Bhowanipore, South Kolkata. His father was an operator in Metro cinema hall. Uttam Kumar went to Chakraberia School and then to South Subarban School from where he cleared Matriculation Examination in 1942. He got admitted into Government Commercial College (now Goenka College) in the evening section to study Bachelor’s of Commerce degree and graduated in 1945. The financial condition of the family compelled him to take a clerical job in Calcutta Port Commission.
In 1947, he got an offer for a very short role in a Hindi film called Mayador. He received 25 paise for per day for acting as an extra in this film which was never released. His first released movie was Dristidaan directed by Nitin Bose and was released in 1948. In the beginning his films flopped in box office. Uttam Kumar’s first appearance with Suchitra Sen was in the comedy movie Saarey Chuattor in 1953. This film turned out to be a runaway hit. From that time onwards, the Uttam-Suchitra romantic duo produced a series of popular films through out a period which is known as the golden age of commercial Bengali cinema. Uttam-Suchitra combination became a legendary and household name producing super hit movies like Sobar Upare, Saptatpadi, Chaowa Paowa, Shilpi, Sagaraika… Uttam Kumar’s performance in Satyajit Ray’s movie Nayak was remarkable. He starred in another Ray movie – Chiriakhana. Uttamkumar acted in a few Hindi movies. For a brief period, he also acted in professional theatre. In 1955, he took part in the drama Shyamali staged in Star Theatre. Uttam Kumar died in 1980 from heart attack at the age of 54. Upon his death Satyajit Ray, the legendary film director said: “Uttam had tremendous acting talent. There isn’t and there will not be another hero like him.”