10. Sanyasi Raja (1975); Dir: Piyush Bose
Based on the notorious Bhowal Sanyasi case, this is one of Uttam’s major triumphs as an actor. Apart from Suchitra Sen, the other actor he was paired with most often with is Supriya Devi – and this is one of their more mature outings. Uttam is again a revelation as temperamental zamindar Raja Suryo Kishore, aware of his vices and yet unable and unwilling to mend his ways. Engrossed in his musical soirees, he neglects his wife and estate. His family physician and friend, in league with his wife, plots to kill him and usurp his property. Suryo survives and returns to the estate as a sanyasi, the very antithesis of his earlier avatar.
These films provide only a glimpse of the range Uttam was capable of. There are others as deserving that one has left out. This is a list that omits Chiriyakhana. Uttam was a wonderful comic talent too and the list leaves out that genre almost entirely: Bhranti Bilas (based on Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors), Chhadabeshi (for Hindi film buffs, this is the film that inspired Chupke Chupke) and Dhanni Meye, among others, though even in the ten above he provides ample glimpses of his comic timing. However, as Ray remarked on his death, ‘There will never be an actor like him.’ And for me, these ten represent a sampling of the best of Uttam as an actor and a star.