Suchitra Sen-Uttam Kumar: Bengali Cinema's First Couple

New Delhi
Suchitra Sen-Uttam Kumar: Bengali Cinema's First Couple

Suchitra Sen had a great on-screen chemistry with Uttam Kumar and the two were regarded as Bengali cinema's first couple.

The duo acted together in 30 films between 1953 and 1975 that included a string of hits such as Sagarika (1956), Harano Sur (1957), Indrani (1958), Agnipariksha (1954), Saptapadi and Grihadaha (1967).

In her recent book Uttam Kumar And Suchitra Sen: Bengali Cinema's First Couple, author Maitreyee B Chowdhury pays a tribute to the unparalleled star-duo of Bengali cinema.

The writer says that platonic or spiritual, their mutual admiration was palpable and infectious. Both shared much more than their films and would even look to each other for solace in times both good and bad.

"The two had tremendous respect for each other, too. Uttam and Suchitra's relationship was based on mutual trust, appreciation and admiration for each other's work and personality... They maintained a dignified presence in public. Interestingly, whenever Suchitra was asked to define her relationship with Uttam, she was brief with her words.

"She would usually dismiss it as 'just friends'. Uttam admitted to having not only a soft corner for Suchitra, but also that he was in awe of her as a co-actor, as well as a person. 'Yes I loved her, but this love is of a different kind and genre'," she writes.

Uttam and Suchitra, who worked in the Bengali film industry for almost three decades, also tested the waters in Hindi cinema. Whether it was destiny or wrong timing, both the stars, though hugely popular in Bengal, were only marginally successful in Hindi films.

Suchitra made her debut with "Sesh Kothay" (1952). Since this film was never released, her first release was "Saat Number Kayedi" (1953).

The book has several interesting anecdotes like Suchitra, wrapped in a towel, posed for photographer Dhiren Deb but that picture was never published; Suchitra and Gulzar used to address each other as 'Sir'; and M F Husain once drew a sketch of her based on her pictures and named it 'Mystique'.

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