10 Best Performances Of ‘Mahanayak’ Uttam Kumar, Film Companion

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8. Stree (1972); Dir: Salil Dutta

10 Best Performances Of ‘Mahanayak’ Uttam Kumar, Film Companion

By the turn of the 1970s, Uttam had started to venture more and more into character roles that often cast him in a negative light, for example, in Aparichito (1969), Sanyasi Raja (1975) and most impressively in Stree. Uttam Kumar is brilliant as Madhab Dutta, a zamindar who whiles away the night – and his fortune – in drunken revelries, with a band of hangers-on literally leeching him dry, even as his wife waits for him in vain. Soumitra Chatterjee as the idealistic young man in love with the wife is perfectly cast, but this is a film that Uttam owns. From the way he puffs his hookah to his impatience at having to sign documents, every nuance, every gesture as the depraved, yet surprisingly childlike, trusting and petulant zamindar is spot-on. And even as he admits to his wife, in one of the most memorable scenes of the film, that he will willingly do anything she asks him to as long as it does not entail changing his ‘character’, you cannot help revel in the pathos Uttam brings to the character’s understanding of himself.

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