The other side of Uttam Kumar: As a Producer

The other side of Uttam Kumar

Joy Mukherjee13 Jun 2011

To start this article, it is needless to give any introduction because this person doesn't need the same. Prior to this many essays have already been published focusing his acting talent. So let me try some thing different. Apart from being an actor, he was a producer, a film director, a music director and a versatile singer. It was mid fifties. Uttam Kumar was watching an English film in Metro Cinema in Kolkata. The name of the film was Random Harvest. The story was about a man who lost his memory in an accident. Uttam Kumar came out of the theater with a thoughtful mind. He called up director Ajoy Kar and told him the story.

To start this article, it is needless to give any introduction because this person doesnt need the same. Prior to this many essays have already been published focusing his acting talent. So let my try some thing different.

Apart from being an actor, he was a producer, a film director, a music director and a versatile singer. (Uttam Kumar movies)

It was mid fifties. Uttam Kumar was watching an English film in Metro Cinema in Kolkata. The name of the film was Random Harvest. The story was about a man who lost his memory in an accident. Uttam Kumar came out of the theater with a thoughtful mind. He called up director Ajoy Kar and told him the story. Mr Kar too felt excited and both agreed a wonderful story line could be developed from this English film. But the question was who will be the producer. Uttam Kumar and Ajoy Kar jointly took up the risk. They formed a production unit called Alochaya Production Pvt Ltd. and thus the famous film Harano Sur was initiated. The film was released in 6th Sept 1957. It was a mega hit movie and the film was awarded with Presidents Award, India, 1958, Regional Certificate of Merit.

That was just the start he needed. Then he started his own production company named Uttam Kumar Films (Pvt) Limited and went on producing films like Saptapadi, Bhrantibilash, Uttar Phalguni, Grihadaha, Jatugriha and Choti Si Mulakat. Apart from the Choti Si Mulakat all were super hits.

Uttar Phalguni

Here, an interesting thing should be noted. In Uttar Phalguni, Uttam Kumar didnt cast himself. Bikash Roy played the leading role. When Uttam Kumar was asked for the reason he said “ Public will not accept that Uttam Kumar is playing the role of uncle of Suchitra Sen “ This proves, he could also well judge the temperament of general audience.

During the shooting of Uttar Phalguni, the news came that Suchitra Sen was selected as the best actress in Moscow Film Festival for the film Saat Pake Bandha. Uttam Kumar heard the news and announced a party in the honor of Suchitra Sen in the sets of Uttar Phalguni. Director Asit Sen warned, that if the shooting were cancelled for the day then Uttam Kumar, as a producer would have to incur some financial loss. But Uttam Kumar said that he dont want to miss this wonderful opportunity to facilitate the greatest heroine of Bengali Film Industry.

Jatu Griha

Jotugriho was a different kind of film altogether. The original story was written by Subodh Ghosh, a prominent Bengali novelist. Considering the complexity of the subject, he thought to give the responsibility of direction to none other than Tapan Sinha. By that time Tapan Sinha had already gained international fame and bagged several awards. Uttam Kumar also gave the liberty to Tapan Sinha to make his own casting. He also said that if the director feels he can go for any other hero or can choose a new face. This shows the high level of professionalism and sincerity he had towards his role as a producer. He knew very well that from his position he could command the Bengali film Industry. But he didnt do that. Instead he gave full liberty to the director to choose the actors.

Chhotisi Mulaqat

In mid sixties, Uttam Kumar went to Mumbai to try his luck as a producer and hero. He selected Ashapurna Devis popular novel Agni Pariksha. In fact Agni Pariksha was the first hit film of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen in Bengali. After a long frustrating period of almost 7 years, Uttam Kumar got his major break-through by this film. He remade the story in Hindi by the name Chhoti Si Mulaqat. Uttam Kumar and Bijyantimala were in the lead role. The film was directed by Alo Sircar. Uttam Kumar was very hopeful with the success of the film. He invested all his savings and even made some loans from the market to complete this high budget movie. But unfortunately the things didnt go as he thought. It was total flop and that almost brought an end to his career as producer. In the same year he suffered from a major heart attack. He had to work day and night to repay his loan.

The most notable thing is among the 7 films he produced, 6 were super hit. But the failure of Chhoti Si Mulaqat was so huge that it took a long time to come out of the financial crisis. Otherwise who knows we might have got another Saptapadi or Uttar Phalguni?

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