Interview - Madhabi Mukherjee - Kolkata Bengali Movie Actress Talks About Mahanayak Uttam Kumar

WashingtonBanglaRadio.com WBRi KOLKATA TUBE | Madhuri Mukherjee

In this audio interview, listen to Kolkata Bengali movie veteran actress MADHABI MUKHOPADHYAY talk about her work in Bengali cinema with  hero and megastar UTTAM KUMAR in lead roles.

Buy DVD: Madhabi Mukherjee Filmography

Attaja (1996) [Director]
Aghatan Ajo Ghate (1989)
Agniswar (1975)
Amriter Swad (1977)
Anjali (1988)
Antarale (1985)
Anurager Chhoya (1986)
Attajaa (1996)
Baishey Sravan (1960)
Bancharamer Bagan (1980)
Bancharamer Bagan (1980)
Bandook Baaj (1987)
Bidrohini (1994)
Biraj Bou (1972)
Bonpalashir Padabali (1973)
Calcutta 71 (1971)
Calcutta 71 (1971)
Charulata (1964)
Charulata [Collector's Edition] (1964)
Chhadmabeshi (1971)
Chhutir Ghanta (1976)
Chinnapatra (1974)
Chinnapatra (1974)


Diba Ratrir Kabya (1970)
Ganadevata (1979)
Hirer Shikal (1988)
Jora Dighir Chowdhury Paribar (1966)
Kapurush O Mahapurush [Collector's Edition] (1965)
Mahanagar [Collector's Edition] (1963)
Mahanagar (1963)
Parash Pathar / Streer Patra [2 in 1]
Pratikar (1987)
Prithibir Shesh Station / Sathi Aamar / Agradani [3 in 1]
Rangin Basanta (1995)
Saheb (1981)
Samantaral (1970)
Shankhabela (1966)
Strir Patra (1972)
Strir Patra (1972)
Subarna-Rekha (1965)
Tantrik (2002)
Thana Theke Aschi (1965)
Utsab (2000)
Zehad (2003)

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Interview

You have had the opportunity to work closely with Bengali actor Uttam Kumar who was an extremely popular actor among Bengali movie lovers. How was your experience in working with superstar Mahanayak Uttam Kumar ?

Madhabi Mukherjee: My experience is like this - when Uttam Kumar was alive and he was working, it never was apparent from his conduct that he was a superstar hero of Bengali Cinema. I was an unknown rookie in the Bangla film at that time. But that did not matter to him - his behavior was simple, normal and unassuming. When I received the Urvashi award - a National Award -  he orgabnized a big felicitation event for me, and he said in that event that he is a fan of Madhabi. I was thoroughly embarrassed ... and when I was asked to speak at the event, I said I was in no condition to do so. Uttam Kumar had this greatness - a basiv respect for other people, and not only people, but also his country - after floods and such he actively organized fund-raising events and even took to the streets to raise money for the Chief Minister's Fund.

How was Uttam Kumar as a Film Director ?

Madhabi Mukherji: He was fantastic. Bon Polashir Padabali is a four hour long film. Everyone said "Uttam - don't do a four-hour movie - bring it down to two hours." But he said No, the film will be four hours long, because I do not have the dishonor any of the characters. And when this four-hour long movie was released, it was a blockbuster.

Uttam Kumar not only was a Director, but also directed the Music for some films.

Madhabi Mukherjee: Yes - and he was a great singer, too. He also composed music for songs ... Kal Tumi Aleya ...

Uttam Kumar directed films, composed and directed music for films, but people remember him mostly for his acting in Bengali films. What is the reason of the incredible success of Uttam Kumar as an actor ?

Madhabi Mukherjee: The reason is his sensitivity and feelings towards other people, that carried over as sensitivity towards the roles he played in cinema. The more an actor is sensitive towards the role being played, the better is his performance.

How would you analyze the acting talent of Uttam Kumar ?

Madhabi Mukherjee: Uttam Kumar had a certain amount of stuborn-ness in doing what he decided to do. For example, he did a movie titled "KUHAK" in which he had the role of a villain. His performance in the negative role was fantastic, but Bengali Film audience at that time did not want to see Uttam Kumar in anything other than romantic lead roles. This resulted in KUHAK being a box-office flop. But Uttam Kumar remembered this, and later, he did a movie called STREE which also had him in a negative role. But that film went on to be a superhit blockbuster.

We are reminded of Satyajit Ray's NAYAK starring Uttam Kumar. Satyajit Ray has said he wrote NAYAK with Uttam Kumar in mind.

Madhabi Mukherjee: Look - NAYAK is a film by Satyajit Ray who made it for Uttam Kumar - Satyajit Ray and Uttam Kumar - such a movie will of course be spectacular. Uttam Kumar's real accomplishment lies in his work in films directed by weaker directors, which Uttam Kumar took to extraordinary levels by his sheer acting prowness. Since Uttam Kumar was delivering a continuous stream of superhit commercial films, many art-house / parallel film makers did not express any desire to cast Uttam Kumar - they preferred Soumitra Chatterjee. In one way, it was bad luck for Uttam Kumar that almost all his movies were box-office hits.

You have worked with Uttam Kumar in many films over an extended period in time - does any interesting incident come to your mind ?

Madhabi Mukherjee: Uttam Kumar the person was a man with a huge heart. Once, during make-up, Uttam Kumar noticed his make-up man wearing a grave face, and asked what was wrong. The make-up main told Uttam Kumar that his daughter was going to get married, and he was worried about a large sum of money he would be required to come up with as dowry on the day of the marriage. Uttam Kumar said money was not going to be a problem - somehow it would come to the make-up man. Many days passed, and on the day of the marriage, Uttam Kumar showed up in the wedding ceremony with the money and paid the dowry.

I have seen many people, and thorougly believe that unless one has a heart that is as big as the sky, one cannot reach a position like that of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar.

- Interview by VOA Washington Bangla Radio; transcribed by WBRi WashingtonBanglaRadio.com


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