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Uttam and Suchitra, an unbeatable romantic pair - GetBengal story

13 March, 2024 16:46:04
Uttam and Suchitra, an unbeatable romantic pair - GetBengal story

Was it eternal love? Was it romance, passion or pathos? The on-screen chemistry between two of the most iconic matinee idols of all times – Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen, is still shrouded in mystery. In real life, they were best of friends, often calling each other by their pet names. It was obvious they shared an affectionate bond. Some tried to affix a tale of romance, but the actors remained stoic in this regard. But the minute they hit the screens, it was a different story. From Bulu and Tapasi of Agnipariksha (one of the earliest of their movie) to the more mature Krishnendu-Rina duo to even the earliest Romola and Rampriti of Sare Chuattor, there is no denying the fact that Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen did have an intrinsic chemistry that was difficult to decipher, but was enough to spark such a flame on screen that after Uttam Kumar’s death, Suchitra Sen would retreat into a life of solitude. Did she know that without her ‘Utu’, she would not shine in her films?

Documentary film maker Ranadip Ray draws attention to the fact that “this duo had acted together in an unprecedented 30 or more films creating timeless tales which even the youth of today enjoy. Even today their movies have high views on OTT platforms, despite most of them being black-and-white. We are trying to replicate that chemistry by making sequels of some of their movies or making similar stories on-screen, yet nothing works. That proves that it isn’t just the storyline, but something more! And that was their chemistry.”

“The mesmerising romance between Uttam and Suchitra fuelled a lot of gossip during our college days,” says 75-year-old Rina Ghosh who is still a die-hard fan of their movies as is her grandson. “We used to wait for cinema magazines to scan through. We always wanted them to get married in real life too! That was the kind of madness that the audience had for the couple. In one word they were sensuous.”

Let’s take for example the movie Agnipariksha that was produced by Uttam Kumar himself. A milestone of a movie, directed by Agradoot, it was what propelled the duo to instant stardom. “The intensity of their acting and the love they share despite being brought up in two different households with two different economic and social backgrounds, calls for an applause,” says Uttam fan Saptarshi Bhowmick who is a college student today, yet loves to see Uttam-Suchitra movies. Bhowmick mentions the scene where Bulu meets Tapasi for the first time, on a mountain, trapped in fog, thrown together by the hands of fate. When Kiriti accidentally touches her and expresses remorse at his action, Suchitra’s poignant song “Jodi Bhul Kore” brings out her ecstasy, the inner turmoil. But the duo was as magnetic in humourous films as they were in romantic ones. One of their earliest movies, Sare Chuattor is an example of the same. 


This is a comedy about the unexpected arrival of Romola with her parents at a male boarding house where Uttam Kumar aka Rampriti also lives. A 1953 hit, this film is remembered today for bringing together the eternal romantic pair Uttam and Suchitra. They pulled off quarrelling scenes with elan, lapped up by the audience for the tension they managed to create. Uttam Kumar as Rampriti was in awe of Romola and a tad confused about the right way of handling her. The scenes where he follows his lady love and tries to woo her are a perfect blend of fun and romance. Next came films like Harano Sur, Indrani, Bipasha, Shilpi and much more. The intense romance between the two on screen sent ripples through the audience of Bengal. “In those days there were a few critics who called the kind of love they emoted as ‘nyaka’ but the audience in general were enthralled and it was like a next-door romance,” remembers Ghosh.

Harano Sur is is replete with intense love scenes between Alok and Roma, not just in the dialogue, but in their acting skills. The scenes of Alok and Roma gradually falling in love are subtle and tender, artistically done, that left the audience in awe. “How can we ever forget song sequences like ‘Tumi Je Amar,’asks Bhowmick. “The melodious voice of Geeta Dutt added a different dimension and magic to the romance between Uttam and Suchitra. It will need more decades to create that sort of an on-screen romance.” Even the scenes that shatter the love – where Alok gets back his memory and leaves, where Roma visits rich industrialist Alok and realises that he does not recognise her is poignant with the emotional trauma of a forgotten wife. Her pained expression where she tells Alok, now her employer, that she is ‘no one but a governess’, and that ‘her husband has forgotten her’, haunts the viewers. And that arched look of Suchitra asking Uttam: ‘Jodi boli apnakei khujchhi’ (if I say I was searching for you) brings that desperate depth in the scene. 

Made in 1956, came another movie Shilpi, which was a tragedy that left the audience in tears. The romantic scenes in Shilpi aesthetically depict the mutual love, respect and admiration that the lovers feel as artist and muse. Symbolism plays a big role throughout. The suffering of the separated lovers, especially the scene where Anjana sings in front of her fiancé while she is pining for Dhiman, are agonising. Dhiman and Anjana defy parental strictures, to meet each other, when Anjana lying on the ground whispers sweet nothings to a happy Dhiman, transporting the audience to another world. Similar scenes were seen in Indrani. Directed by Niren Lahiri in 1958, it was one of the biggest blockbusters from the hit pair. The unforgettable scene where the couple have an argument and Sudarshan stops to just stare at Indrani for a long time. When Indrani asks him what he is searching for, he says, ‘Indrani ke, je hariye ghechhe’ (I am searching for Indrani, who is lost). The song “Nir Chhoto Khoti Nei", a duet that Indrani and Sudarshan sing in their new home in Hemanta Kumar and Geeta Dutt’s voices, marks the coming together of two kindred souls.

The couple made and broke their own milestones. Their chemistry was not just romantic and tragic. They also created some ‘different’ chemistry like one sees in Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya’s Kamal Lata. Here Suchitra is very powerful as an actress, but Uttam is very restrained. Kamal Lata is a symbol of dedication and universal love. The scene where Kamal picks flowers for the puja in the morning and Srikanto follows her around while she sings beautifully showcases their growing love for each other. Another adorable scene is where Srikanto passes a garland for the deity to Kamal. “There is no desire in that look,” says Ray and “the couple that was always known as the hit romantic pair is so subtle here, their romance so subdued.” Another mature movie of a different type is Har Mana Har, the adult romance between artist Binu and Nira within the confines of an orphanage that Binu runs. The mutual dependence of the two characters, their common sensibilities and their concern for the children of the orphanage, bring in a subtle romance. But there are intense moments too – where Nira seeks Binu’s blessings after having cleared her Master’s degree. Binu wants to give her a portrait of hers that he has made, but he cannot as someone has destroyed it. Instead, he plucks a flower and puts it in her hair and says, ‘Chobi eke debo bole chilam, phul diye sajiye dilam’ (I had promised you a picture; I have completed the picture with the flower). An extremely adult concept, Har Mana Har will always remain special. Talking of chemistry, it reached its height in one immortal movie: Saptapadi. Directed by Ajoy Kar, the film is set against the backdrop of World War II. This film has the immensely popular song “Ei Poth Jodi Na Shesh Hoye''. 

Uttam and Suchitra’s chemistry and undeniable charm on-screen is unforgettable and will remain so down the ages, not just decades but centuries later.

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