16 June, 2021

Lamps, Shades

Uttam-Suchitra's incandescence lit up Bengali cinema. It endures still.

Lamps, Shades
A marvellously versatile actor, he could charm the birds off the trees. The epitome of feminine poise, she possessed a million-watt smile. Together, they were the last word in Bengali screen romance. Does romance in Bengali cinema begin and end with the legendary Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen pairing? It doesn't. For it has produced several other successful star duos—Soumitra Chatterjee-Aparna Sen, Soumitra-Tanuja (the Hindi actress had a fruitful stint in Calcutta in the 1960s), Tapas Pal-Debashree Roy, Prosenjit-Rituparna Sengupta and Jeet-Koel Mullick. But no one's ever been as gloriously blessed with screen magic; none at all in the league of 'Uttam-Suchitra'.

The pair ruled the box office from 1953, when they were first cast together in the riotously funny Sharey Chuattar (Seventy Four and a Half), till the early 1970s. The screen chemistry Uttam-Suchitra shared in a string of romantic, tragedy-tinged melodramas defined the parameters of the genre. They remain the benchmark to this day, even if, thanks to the gyrations of Jeet and...
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