September 9, 2010

Mahanayak Uttam Kumar museum, gallery in Tollygunge

TNN, Sep 4, 2010, 01.05am IST

KOLKATA: More than 50% of his celluloid films are lost forever, but it is only now 30 years after his death that the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has decided to set up an archive on Uttam Kumar. There are also plans to set up a permanent gallery on the matinee idol.

On Thursday, minister of state for information and cultural affairs Soumendranath Bera, said that a decision has been taken to set up an exclusive vault to archive films, photographs and writings on Uttam Kumar at the Chalachchitra Shatabarshiki Bhawan in Tollygunge.

According to Partha Raha, curator of the Bhawan, still photographs on the matinee idol have been procured since 1948, many posters of his films as well as a number of booklets containing articles on Uttam Kumar and his films have also been collected. These have discussions, reviews and analyses of his films.

"At the moment, we have procured 13 celluloid prints of Uttam Kumar's films. In addition, we also have two films from the Satyajit Ray archive Nayak and Chiriakhana in which Uttam Kumar played the lead role," Raha said.

One of the four vaults at Chalachitra Shatabarshiki Bhawan, dedicated to Uttam Kumar, is also being named after the actor.

There are also plans to create a permanent photo gallery on the actor at the Bhawan. "This should be ready by December," Raha said. According to the minister, film scholars keen on research on Uttam Kumar will also benefit hugely from this archiving being taken up by the government.

According to film scholar Sanjay Mukhopadhyay, most of Uttam Kumar's celluloid prints are either damaged beyond repair or completely lost. "A proper film archive means a celluloid archive, and the technical expertise required for restoration of damaged celluloid prints is hardly available in our country. It remains to be seen how the state government goes about preparing the archive," Mukhopadhyay said.

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