A dollop of Bengal – Uttam Kumar

U had only a handful of options. It could have been Upendra Kishore Ray Chowdhury (grandfather of Satyajit Ray) – the eminent writer and entrepreneur , Uttarpara – the second oldest municipality in Bengal, University of Calcutta –  the first institution in Asia to be established as a multidisciplinary and secular Western-style university and Utpal Dutt – the renowned actor, director, writer-playwright. However it wouldn’t be justified to complete this series without a post dedicated to the man who is considered as the greatest actor of Bengali cinema till date and one of the best actors ever in the Indian movie industry – Uttam Kumar.

Uttam Kumar –

uttam-kumar news18
Mahanayak Uttam Kumar – Source :News18

Uttam Kumar (3 September 1926– 24 July 1980), born as Arun Kumar Chatterjee was an Indian film actor, director, producer, singer, composer, and playback singer.  Through his career he earned commercial as well as critical success and remains as an Indian cultural icon even today. Uttam Kumar was especially adored for his effortless naturalism in front of the camera and a distinctively urbane charisma that broke free from the prototypical Bengali screen hero of the past.

He was a recipient of many awards over his lifetime, including National Film Award for Best Actor. Actor Rajesh Khanna once said about Kumar, “He is the perfect ambassador of Indian cinema. No one carries Indian culture in a Kurta and Dhoti as well as he does.”

More than three decades after his demise, Uttam Kumar still remains in the hearts of countless Bengalis.

The journey – 

Uttam’s first release was Drishtidan though he worked in an earlier unreleased film called Mayador. Then he acted in about four to five films, all of which were flops. His breakthrough film was Agni Pariksha in 1954 that began the success of the all-time romantic pair of Uttam KumarSuchitra Sen, though they had been first paired in Sharey Chuattor (1953).The film ran for 65 weeks and established Uttam in the industry.

Uttam Suchitra telegraph
Uttam Kumar – Suchitra Sen in Saptapadi – Source: The Telegraph

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A dollop of Bengal – Tram

I was quite tempted to write on T for Tollywood – the Bengali movie industry located in Tollygunje. T could also have been Tajpur in East Midnapore district – famous for the sea beach which is now getting upgraded to a port, Tarapith in Birbhum district where the famous tantric temple is located, Tarakeshwar – a pilgrimage for the followers of Lord Shiva, Theatre – the collaborative form of fine art with a rich heritage in Bengal, Tipu Sultan Shahi Mosque in Kolkata – a relic of architectural and cultural heritage and Town Hall – one of the majestic heritage buildings. My pick for the day is an entity that has its roots in Kolkata and has long been considered synonymous with the city – Tram.

Tram –

Tram - Culturebowl.jpg
The tram journey – Source:CultureBowl

The tram system in the city of Kolkata initially operated by the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) is the only tram network operating in India since 1902. Today CTC owns 257 trams, of which 125 run daily. Each single-deck articulated car can carry 200 passengers (60 seated).

Tram can be considered as one entity that gives the city a charm of nostalgia. Series of transformations & renovations from horses to electricity could never deprive the Tram of its eco-friendly tag.

In the era of luxurious cars and bikes, Kolkata tram has managed to brave the odds and thrives in the roads of Kolkata bringing back memories of a safe and laid back lifestyle.

History –

Tram History
History of trams and Calcutta Tramway Company(CTC) – Source: CTC official website

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