Uttam Kumar amar rahey!” rent the air. Thousands of people beat the heat and had come out on the streets to see off their beloved Mahanayak, their Guru. Most of them were women and young men. As the procession passed Gariahat Road and approached Dhakuria, the roads were brimming with people. Calcutta hadn’t seen this kind of crowd spill over on the streets since the passing of Rabindranath Tagore, 39 y
It’s near impossible to explain the phenomenon of Uttam Kumar to those who haven’t grown up experiencing it in some form. Only a handful of people in the entire subcontinent have inspired that kind of frenzy in a people. Amitabh Bachchan remained Bollywood’s one-man industry for around 15 years
throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Uttam Kumar played that role for the Bengali film industry. The parts he did were devoid of machismo; there were no slow-mo “entry scenes”, no action sequences, no foot-tapping dance numbers, and in the opening credits, his name appeared along with other cast members. Yet, the audience waited with bated breath for him to arrive on screen. The moment they saw his face, the crowd burst into thunderous applause, with some of them yelling “Guru! Guru!” at the top of their voices.