There are two deaths that had a great impact on Kolkata's history. The first was the passing of Rabindranath Tagore on August 7, 1941, and the second was that of Arun Kumar Chatterjee, known as Uttam Kumar, in 1980.The state of Bengal collectively mourned his demise with the media honouring his legacy by screening his movies repeatedly on television.
In an illustrious career of almost 30 years, Uttam appeared in a staggering 211 movies, some of which hit theatre screens after his death. Uttam first outing with Satyajit Ray in the 1966 film 'Nayak' is still said to be the legendary actor's career-defining role. Ray, who has a global stature for being a stalwart of world cinema and often tipped to be the founder of neo-noir genre in India, went on to work with the actor again in the 1967 film 'Chiriakhana'.
There has been a rumour circulating around the Bengali film industry which states that Ray actually had an offer for Uttam long before they came together for 'Nayak'. The film in question here is 'Ghare Baire'. As the story goes, it was early 1956 when Ray fell ill and had to stay at home for a few days. The filmmaker thought about making a film on 'Ghare Baire' and developed a script for the Rabindranath Tagore novel. He was rumoured to have chosen Uttam to portray Sandip's role in the screen adaptation, reports ToI.
However, rumour has it that Uttam rejected the offer politely as it seemed like a negative role and he believed that such a character could dither his image. At the time, Uttam had earned his place as a big star in the Bengali industry with many of his works like 'Sharey Chuattor' (1953), 'Agni Pariksha' (1954) and 'Sabar Uparey' (1955) becoming a huge hit at the box office.
Meanwhile, the 'Ghare Baire' shoot was shelved for several years before Ray finally completed it in 1984 with Soumitra Chatterjee as the lead joined by Swatilekha Sengupta and Victor Banerjee and went on to become a critically acclaimed film.