The Mahanayak of Bengali cinema, Uttam Kumar, was the legendary actor and had a great influence on the audience. His on screen chemistry with actresses like Suchitra Sen, Supriya Devi and Sabitri Chatterjee is still remembered by the audience. Uttam Kumar really gave a Midas touch to the Bengali cinema with his genuine and realistic performance which used to mesmerize the audience. Uttam Kumar was born as Arun Kumar Chatterjee on 3rd September 1926 in Ahiritola, Calcutta in British India. He was the elder son amongst the three. He had two younger brothers Barun and Tarun, out of which Tarun was the youngest and a famous actor. He and Tarun have appeared together in many Bengali films like 'Jeeban-Mrityu', 'Maya Mriga', 'Dhanyi Meye', 'Saptapadi', 'Mon Niye', 'Agniswar' and ' Sanyasi Raja'. Uttam Kumar's parents were Satkari Chatterjee and Chapala Debi.
The 'Mahanayak' studied at South Suburban School and then did his higher studies from 'Goenka College of Commerce and Business Administration. He could not complete his studies as he started working as a clerk at Calcutta Post Trust. He was married to Gauri Debi and they had a son named Gautam, who was a businessman and died of cancer at the age of 53. Uttam Kumar's grandson Gaurav, is a famous Tollywood actor and famous lyricist Pulak Bandyopadhyay was his uncle.
While working as a clerk at Calcutta Post Trust, he acted with many amateur theater groups. His big joint family was an owner of their own theater group named as Suhrid Samaj which used to stage many amateur shows. Uttam Kumar made his silver screen debut with the film 'Drishtidan' which was directed by Nitin Bose. He came into the notice with the film 'Basu Paribar'. But he got his big breakthrough in his career with the film 'Agni Pariksha'. His famous films with the legendary actress Suchitra Sen, Supriya Devi and Sabitri Chatterjee is still remembered by the audience. Uttam Kumar gave films like 'Shapmochan' ,'Shilpi' , 'Sagarika' , 'Indrani' ,'Sabar Uparey' ,'Harano Sur' and many more. He along with Suchitra featured in total 30 films together between 1954 and 1975. Uttam Kumar who is still remembered as a cultural icon was famous as an actor, producer, director, music director, singer. His immense contribution to the Bengali cinema earned him a galactic critical adulation. People love him so much that a Metro Station in Kolkata was built in his honor giving his name. His best performance is considered as 'Nayak' by the film maestro Satyajit Ray.
Uttam Kumar ruled over Bengali cinema for almost three decades until his death. The actor laid to the eternal rest at a very early age of 53. The workaholic suffered a massive heart attack while filming 'Ogo Bodhu Shundori' in 1980. He was immediately admitted to the Belleveue Clinic. Despite of doctors' hard and sincere efforts, Uttam Kumar lost his battle to the death on 24th July 1980 in Tollygunge, Calcutta. The actor received many prestigious awards including the National Award for the Best Actor in 1976 'Chiriyakhana' and 'Antony Firingee'. He is called as 'Mahanayak' in reference to his immense contribution to the cinema.