A pioneer of revolutionary theatre in India, Utpal Dutt, born on 29 March 1929, was a renowned actor, director, and writer-playwright. The multi-talented Dutt is fondly remembered for his intelligent comic punch.
Dutt began his career as stage actor when he was a schoolboy. Pioneer of Indian Modern Theatre, he took stage art beyond geographical parameters. In fact, it is said that his entry into cinema was more by chance than by deliberate choice.
On his birth anniversary, let’s look into his journey from a theatre actor to becoming a big screen artist:
He was primarily an actor in Bengali theatre, where he became a pioneering figure in Modern Indian theatre when he founded the “Little Theater Group” in 1949. This group enacted many English, Shakespearean and Brecht plays.
He was a part of over 100 films in his 40 years of career span, which comprised of a colourful range beginning with the upright and honest government officer in Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome (1969) to Satyajit Ray’s Agantuk (1991) and Gautam Ghose’s Padma Nadir Majhi (1993.)
His range was mix of comic, heroic and the villainous roles in Hindi cinema. Utpal Dutt played the main villain roles in some successful movies.
His well-regarded Bengali films include Bhuvan Shome, Agantuk, Jana Aranya and Hirak Rajar Deshe.
Utpal Dutt’s first Hindi film was not Guddi but “Saat Hindusthani” directed by KA Abbas. Many may not know, Amitabh Bachhan’s first film was this film (made in 1969). Utpal Dutt portrayed a Punjabi Sikh army person,while Amitabh was an untouchable. The film was based on Goa-Liberation. The seven Hindusthanis stand in a body iconising national integration and they held the common goal. The seven ethnic classes grouped together symbolize the Nation as a whole.
He received National Film Award for Best Actor in 1970 and three Filmfare Best Comedian Awards.
In 1990, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance, and Theatre, awarded him its highest award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to theatre.
Dutt suffered a heart attack and died on August 19, 1993.