You have probably heard that Uttam Kumar’s last film is a Bengali film called Ogo Bodhu Shundari. Wrong!
Uttam Kumar died while filming Ogo Bodhu Shundari. Just a few months before his death, Uttam Kumar finished dubbing for a another crime thriller called Plot number 5. There he played a serial-killer who’s bound to a wheelchair.
The film was released in 1981 and ran for 10 weeks at Elite Cinema in Kolkata. In the rest of the country, the film – with no songs, romantic scenes or a lead heroine – sank without a trace.
The film was a beautiful experiment where parallel cinema met mainstream cinema, an art that took almost 30 years to perfect in Bollywood!
Uttam Kumar finished dubbing for the film in 1980 and returned to Kolkata to shoot his Bengali films. He suffered a massive heart-attack in his green room after he gave a shot for Ogo Bodhu Shundari. He was taken to the best nursing home (as private hospitals were known then) called Belle View in Kolkata where the doctors tried in vain to revive his heart beat.
The Bengali acting legend died on July 24, 1980 at Tollygunge, Kolkata.
Plot Number 5 had no songs, no romantic scenes and the screenplay progressed at faster speed than what was considered ‘normal’ at that time.
The shooting for the film started in 1978 and it released in 1981, year after the acting legend passed away! Considering the wave of romantic stars sweeping across Bollywood, the film stuck out like a sore thumb. Obviously, it didn’t score at the box office despite being the last film that Uttam Kumar shot for and the only film where three of the most talented actors of Hindi cinema came together – the other two being Amol Palekar and Amjad Khan. The film also starred Pradip Kumar, Sarika, Viju Khote, Benjamin Gilani, Vidya Sinha and Shriram Lagoo.
Indian audiences were not used to seeing a film like Plot number 5 and predictably it vanished from public memory soon after.
But till date, that film remains the only film where Salil Chowdhury scored a brilliant background score and had no songs to compose.
Much later, it was Amol Palekar who spoke about the film in his later interviews.
“One film, a murder mystery, I will always remember working in is Plot No. 5 directed by Yogesh Saxena. I performed the character of the disabled , who used to murder anyone, who pitied his disability to move. Working with Uttam Kumar I understood I was facing India’s most gifted actor who co-operated with each of us just like a family friend,” Amol Palekar said in an interview.
Amjad Khan too spoke about the very highly in his interviews.
Not too many photographers ventured into the sets of that film and perhaps only one photographer captured some off-the-set moments . That photographer was NK Sareen.
Sareen ventured into the sets when the climax scenes of the film were being shot – one of the rare scenes where the camera ventures out from their indoor set (the majority of the film is shot inside a house).
Over to NK Sareen now… as he takes over the narration.
Sorry, I am not smiling
Both Amol Palekar and Uttam Kumar looked grumpy and unsatisfied that day.
There were takes and retakes happening on the set and both actors looked terribly unhappy with their performance.
Uttam Kumar was sitting in one corner and smoking one cigarette after the other while Amol Palekar was in another corner, brooding. The situation was tense and I could feel that in the air.
I knew that some of the most important scenes of the film (read the climax) were being filmed that day and the tension was palpable.
Apart from Uttam Kumar, I also saw Amol Palekar but they were not together in one shot. He was hovering around wearing a similar looking but a different coloured gown. I was not interested in clicking Amol as I had met him several times before and after. My only photo-target was Uttam Kumar who seemed to be in an awful mood.
When I pointed my camera at him, Uttam didn’t even smile, he just looked at the camera. It was clear that his mind was preoccupied with what was happening inside the sets.
You may term it whatever you want to, but I will call that extreme concentration. When you are doing something very intense, your mind and body is completely focussed on that. I have hardly seen actors who are more serious and preoccupied about their work than Uttam Kumar.
The entire film has been uploaded on Youtube last year. Here is the complete film in two parts.
Watch it and realise why the film was sticking out like a sore thumb when romantic films saturated with song and dance sequences had become de rigueur in Bollywood.
Short-link -> http://wp.me/p3x1zT-KT All photographs are copyrighted to NK Sareen. To know more about NK Sareen, click HERE. To contact NK Sareen on his facebook page, click HERE You may send him a mail at email@example.com Sareen's last post on this blog -> Extreme Close Up With Satyajit Ray Logo taken from here
Categories: Bollywood Nostalgia