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Happy Birthday Uttam Kumar: Srijit Mukherji pays fitting tribute to Bengal’s Mahanayak with Oti Uttam

The film, which is Srijit Mukherji’s dream project, stars Uttam Kumar’s grandson Gourab Kumar.

Hia Datta
Sep 03, 2021
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It’s the 95th birth anniversary of Bengal’s Mahanayak Uttam Kumar today, a commemorative day, especially for Bengali cinema. And Srijit Mukherji just made the occasion even more special for fans of the cultural icon (which is pretty much everyone in Bengal arguably) by sharing the official poster of his ambitious film Oti Uttam. With a pop of colour awash in vintage style, the poster gives a perspective of the cast peeking at the viewers. Uttam Kumar’s grandson Gourab Chatterjee, Anindya Sengupta, Roshni Bhattacharya, VJ Jina, Laboni Sarkar and Subhasish Mukherjee have been roped in for the film that doffs its hat to the oeuvre of Uttam Kumar and the golden years of Bengali cinema.

Srijit took to Twitter to post the poster with a caption reflecting on his effort and meticulous research to arrive at the film. The film, which is being billed as one-of-a-kind in terms of the VFX treatment and technology, will etch Uttam Kumar in 24 frames, cinematically embossing him to immortality. Uttam Kumar will come alive on the screen, and if this clicks, this could usher a new idiom for putting in VFX to a major cinematic effect, both in terms of the plot and evoking nostalgia for the beloved actor.

While announcing the film, the Autograph director had told the media that instead of the common practice of signing a contemporary actor as Uttam Kumar, he wanted to cast the actor (who left cinephiles gasping to come to terms with the loss in their own ways ever since he passed away in 1980) himself.

The caption of the poster also zeroes in on his relentless efforts in watching 62 films of the National award-winning actor; rewriting the scripts over and over again; and acquiring the rights to Kumar’s films.

The idea of having Uttam Kumar star as himself in the film itself is a marvel in itself, and back in an interview to the Telegraph in March this year, Srijit opened up on how he executed it. “Uttam Kumar’s character has been built through existing footage from his various films.” The scenes of Uttam Kumar have been gathered from 54 of his films.

As far as the plot premise goes, Uttam Kumar is summoned in spirit through planchette as a black-and-white apparition and guides a die-hard fan to woe his beloved. The Hemlock Society director further told the daily that he had worked on the script for three years and wove a fresh story around the existing dialogues and situations. The cast acted on the new script accordingly.

Camellia Productions, Matchcut Productions, and Chayabani have produced the film. Saptak Sanai Das has composed the music and Prabuddha Banerjee has done the BGM. 4th Dimension has done the VFX.

Interestingly enough, Srijit began his film career with Autograph, as a cinematic salute to two of the biggest names in Bengali cinema, Satyajit Ray and Uttam Kumar. Autograph was a modern retelling of the iconic 1966 film Nayak, helmed by Ray, starring Uttam Kumar as the titular cinestar. And now, with Oti Uttam, Srijit has harked back to the beginning by taking up a subject of the film in and around the yesteryear star who lives on in popular culture in more ways than one.

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