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Remembering ‘Mahanayak’ Uttam Kumar, on His 42nd Death Anniversary

The acclaimed star continues to be worshipped like the 'Mahanayak' he is for his unique contribution to the cinematic arts

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INDIA: On Sunday, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, paid tribute to the legendary icon and Bengal’s heartthrob, ‘Mahanayak’ Uttam Kumar, on his death anniversary. The one-of-a-kind matinee star passed away on July 24, 1980.

Tweeting her wishes, Banerjee wrote, “My sincerest tribute to legendary Mahanayak Uttam Kumar on his death anniversary. He was one of the most beloved matinee idols in our country. The icon resides in our hearts even today.”

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Uttam Kumar, who was born as Arun Kumar Chattopadhyay on September 3, 1926, popularly nicknamed the ‘Mahanayak’ (literally translated as ‘ultimate star’), starred in over 200 films in his entire career. Some of his most popular and iconic roles were in films like ‘Harano Sur’, ‘Bicharak’, ‘Saptapadi’, ‘Jhinder Bandi’, ‘Sesh Anka’, ‘Deya Neya’, ‘Lal Pathar’, ‘Jatu Griha’, ‘Thana Theke Aschi,’, ‘Chowringhee’, ‘Nayak’, ‘Anthony Firingee’, ‘Amanush’, ‘Bagh Bondi Khela’ and ‘Chiriyankhana’.

When the Central Government established the National Film Awards, Kumar was the first chosen actor to be bestowed with the National Award for Best Actor at the 15th National Film Awards in 1968 for his thrilling performances in Anthony Firingee and Chiriyankhana.

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Two films, Harano Sur and Saptapadi, which were produced by the star himself under the banner of Alochayas Production, received the prestigious accolade of National Awards.

In 2012, on his death anniversary, the Central Government created a new award in his name, the “Mahanayak Samman Award” as deserving and eternal praise for his lifetime achievement in the film industry. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee presented this award.

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While it has been a tradition to pay tribute to the legendary icon every year on his death anniversary at his residence, the tradition has been discontinued since last year due to the fears of the pandemic.

Gourab Chatterjee, Uttam Kumar’s grandson, said in a statement last year, “Usually on Dadu’s death anniversary, we keep one of our rooms open for his fans to drop by. But this year we have decided not to do so, keeping the pandemic in mind. Though we understand their sentiments, maintaining social distance is of prime importance now. We have planned to make it a very close and private affair.” This year too, the family has refused to allow public admission.

The acclaimed star continues to be worshipped like the ‘Mahanayak’ he is for his unique contribution to the cinematic arts. While the arts mourn the loss of a great genius, history continues to celebrate his works as rare artefacts.

Also Read: India’s First Field Marshal Remembered on His Death Anniversary


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