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HAPPY BIRTHDAY UTTAM KUMAR! Tracing the Suchitra-Uttam enigma on the actor’s birth anniversary

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A week before Uttam Kumar died on July 24, 1980, he had wanted to meet ‘his Rama,’ actress Suchitra Sen who has often been compared to Hollywood’s recluse Greta Garbo. He called her after watching the movie ‘Alo Aamaar Alo’ on TV, but Suchitra Sen was busy and said she will meet later. That meeting never happened and Suchitra’s ‘Utu’ suddenly passed away within a week. It is rumoured that Suchitra Sen became a greater recluse after Uttam passed away and literally stopped going to the studio anymore. 

Uttam Kumar died while filming Ogo Bodhu Sundari. But what many of us do not know is before his death, Uttam Kumar finished dubbing for a another movie, a crime thriller named Plot Number 5, where he played a serial-killer bound to a wheelchair. The film was released in 1981 and ran for 10 weeks at Elite Cinema in Kolkata. In the rest of the country, the film – with no songs, romantic scenes or a lead heroine – sank without a trace. The film was a beautiful experiment where parallel cinema met mainstream cinema, an art that took almost 30 years to perfect in Bollywood! Incidentally this movie also featured Amol Palekar and Amjad Khan. 

Uttam Kumar finished dubbing for the film in 1980 and returned to Kolkata to shoot his Bengali films. He suffered a massive heart-attack in his green room after he gave a shot for Ogo Bodhu Shundari. The legend could not be revived and left us on July 24, 1980.