There is none like Uttam and there will be no one to ever replace him. He was and he is unparalleled in Bengali, even Indian cinema. 

 Satyajit Ray, Oscar-winning Indian Film Director 

Actor and screen icon Uttam Kumar (1926–1980) is a talismanic figure in Bengali public life. Breaking away from established codes of onscreen performance, he came to anchor an entire industry and led the efforts to reimagine popular cinema in the mid-20th-century Bengal. But there is pitifully less knowledge about Uttam Kumar in the learned circles—be it about his range of style and performance; the attractions and problems of his cinema; his roles as producer and patriarch of the industry; or his persona, stardom, and legacy.

The first definitive cultural and critical biography of this larger-than-life figure, Uttam Kumar engages meaningfully with his life and his cinema, revealing the man, hero, and actor from various, often competing, vantages. The conceptual aim is to locate a star figure within a larger historical and cultural context and to enquire into how a towering image was mobilized for an ever-greater pursuit of wholesome, popular, even at times, radical and progressive entertainment. A complimentary métier of this work is to explore why and how this star persona would go on to reconstitute the bhadrolok Bengali visual and cultural world in the post-Partition period.

But above all, this is the story of a clerk who became an actor, an actor who became a star, a star who became an icon, and an icon who became a legend.

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