Doesn't matter if you are akin to Bengali cinema or trying to get a hold of it the first time. You don't claim yourself to be a Bengali movie afficionado until you've seen the movies of the first Mahanayak (megastar) of the Bangla film industry, Uttam Kumar.
If You Haven't Seen Uttam Kumar Movies, You Haven't Seen Enough Of Bengali Cinema
What happens when you bring two monumental personalities together on one stage? You create a work of art that is etched in the book of time for eternity. That's what happened when auteur filmmaker Satyajit Ray and Uttam Kumar joined hands and created Nayak (which also won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali), arguably Uttam Kumar's career's best performance. You can watch it here.
Sharey Chuattor is another product of a legendary duo, only this time, this was the hero and the heroine. The unforgettable silver screen partnership of Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen is something immortal. And Sharey Chuattor was one of the examples of this immortality, a 1953-comedy directed by Nirmal Dey, and co-starring Bhanu Bandopadhyay and Jahor Roy. You can watch it here.
One of the very first musicals to be made in Indian cinema, and possibly the first in Bengali, Antony Firingee is a gem which needs to be treasured for Uttam Kumar's brilliant portrayal of the titular character. Yes it's a biopic based on the life of Anthony Firingee (born Hensman Anthony), a Bengali language folk poet of Portuguese origin. Watch it here.
If you want to get a taste of Uttam Kumar's ability to romance a leading lady on screen, you have to watch Deya Neya. This 1963 jewel is a romantic comedy with Tanuja as the female lead opposite Uttam Kumar and is directed by legend Sunil Bandopadhyay. The film also stars Lily Chakravarty, Tarun Kumar and Chhaya Devi in pivotal roles. Watch the movie here.
There's no great director that Uttam Kumar hadn't worked with in his lifetime. Jhinder Bondi was a result of his partnership with monumental director Tapan Sinha, and his only film with another once-in-a-generation actor, Soumitra Chattopadhyay (the debate regarding who is greater between Soumitra and Uttam is like the Messi-Ronaldo debate). This was a period drama based on a novel written by Saradindu Bandyopadhyay. Watch the movie here.
Watch Mouchak to see the versatility of the megastar's acting prowess. Mouchak brought out that his comic timing as an actor was something very few could match among his contemporaries. The film is directed by Arabinda Mukhopadhyay, and stars Ranjit Mullick, Sabitri Chatterjee and Mithu Mukherjee in lead roles. Watch it here.
This 1975 classic is based on the sensational real life Bhawal sanyasi case, wherein a wealthy zamindar comes back after he goes missing for a decade, and everyone presumes him to be dead. Sanyasi Raja is a semi-biopic of sorts and follows the same plot, wherein Uttam Kumar portrays the role of zamindar Surya Kishore. Watch the movie here.