Photo By Rajib Mukherjee
Achena Uttam is a 2022 Bengali-language biographical film directed by Atanu Bose and produced by Alaknanda Arts. Music is composed by Upali Chattopadhyay. The storyline of the film is based on Uttam Kumar. Atanu Bose’s Achena Uttam is the latest biopic that aims to showcase hidden truths about the late Uttam Kumar’s life and little-known stories about him. With this in mind, it showcases the final days of the Mahanayak and the many trials and tribulations he had gone through to that point – financial troubles, questionable career choices, alcohol abuse, womanising, and living with the incredible stress of being ‘the industry’.
It takes a good deal of courage to recreate a persona as interesting and dynamic as Uttam Kumar and Saswata Chatterjee does it well. From his speech to his mannerism, he embodies the Mahanayak to an extent where the facial dissimilarities between the two is mostly forgotten, thanks to the powerful actor’s ability to transform himself into the character with a definite dedication and attention to detail that’s true to his form.
Ditipriya Roy as Sabitri Chatterjee has a short role with an incredible impact, her eyes shimmering with a combination of hurt and humiliation that promises a maturity few young actors possess. Biswanath Basu as Tarun Kumar is understated but important as the peacemaker — a feat that offsets Srabanti Chatterjee’s rather dramatic portrayal of Gauri Debi. Sayantani Raychaudhuri as Supriya Debi leaves one cold, from acting to makeup. However, a surprisingly impressive fit is Priyanshu Chatterjee as Satyajit Ray.
But despite the star-studded cast, there are several forces at work that turn the audiences’ attention towards several conflicting timelines and confusing plot points. From his discussions with Ray about his rejection of Ghare Baire immediately before a scene from the shooting of Nayak (with quite a few years between the two films), to a decided lack of empathy for certain key characters, this confusion is furthered both visually and verbally over the course of the movie. The narration needs a good deal more definition and development, because in order to showcase the other Uttam Kumar, whose character spirals down a miasma, the plot gets lost, and with that, the audience’s empathy towards the characters is affected significantly.
Despite that, certain frames deserve applause for their accuracy in reconstructing another time period, straight down to the carpet, the cigarettes, or the cup. The music is sonorous, especially Shaheb Chatterjee’s Ami Jene Shune Beesh Korechhi Paan as well as Durnibar Saha’s Tumi Shondhar Meghomala. Special mention must also be made about the song written by the Mahanayak himself, Hindusthan Mein Keyaa Hain Tumhara, recreated quite nicely by Dipan Mitra and Upali Chattopadhyay. However, it still remains a story that doesn’t quite match up chronologically at times, and in his attempt to depict the ‘truth’, director Atanu Bose doesn’t quite create the space where the characters become more relatable and resonant. This is perhaps why, despite having a good cast, the film still leaves one with a lack of emotional connect and a sense of disenchantment. This was perhaps what the director aimed for in the first place, but probably for completely different reasons.
Saswata Chatterjee as Uttam Kumar
Rituparna Sengupta as Suchitra Sen
Ditipriya Roy as Sabitri Chatterjee
Srabanti Chatterjee as Gauri Devi
Biswanath Basu as Tarun Kumar
Sampurna Lahiri as Sumitra Mukherjee
Priyanshu Chatterjee as Satyajit Ray
Sayantani Raychaudhuri as Supriya Devi
Sneha Das as Young Gauri Devi