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Hero for fair cause

A hospital in memory of a matinee idol, whose smile made millions of Bengali women swoon, is on the cards.

One of the stalls at the mega 14th Bangla Sanskritik Mela, Ranchi, that started on Friday on Zilla School campus, stands out among the saris, kitchenware, terracotta items and even motorcycles.

This kiosk displayed framed photographs of the phenomenally popular Bengali superstar — actor Uttam Kumar, often referred simply as mahanayak (superhero).

The special kiosk dedicated to Uttam Kumar’s rare photographs, mostly with his favourite co-star Suchitra Sen, hopes to collect funds to help set up a super-specialty hospital in his memory.

“We are selling Uttam Kumar pictures, DVDs of his films and songs. The proceeds will be donated for the hospital,” said Subhrajit Sanyal, a relative of the superstar who had passed away in 1980.

Many know Kumar had a two-acre plot at Topchanchi, Dhanbad. “That’s lying idle. We plan to utilise it by building a hospital in his memory,” Sanyal said, adding the process of forming a Trust was on.

“The hospital can be built on a public-private-partnership (PPP) model. Moving in that direction, we had approached some key officials and leaders of the state, including former chief minister Arjun Munda,” Sanyal added.

He, however, said the plan met a hiccup when the political scenario changed after the Munda government fell. “I am hopeful that it will materialise with support of probasi Bengalis who flock to the fair every year and are ardent Uttam Kumar fans,” he said.

Sanyal seems to be right on target as the stall is a big draw.

The mela began on Friday morning with prabhat pheri and flag hoisting of Bengali Association. Contests — from conch blowing to singing Nazrulgeeti — were also hosted. “Unlike other years, we did not get enough entrants for singing as this is a weekday,” rued Arunagshu Brahma who was managing it. At the fancy dress contest, children turned up as cops, phuchka-walas and even mela conveners.

The evening saw a cultural event — dance-drama on Swami Vivekananda and performance by Shahar, a Calcutta-based band.