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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Oti Uttam: Uttam Kumar plays love guru in Srijit Mukherji’s romantic comedy

The film features Anindya Sengupta, Roshni Bhattacharya and Gourab Chatterjee in pivotal roles

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 23.03.24, 04:37 PM
Uttam Kumar in Oti Uttam

Uttam Kumar in Oti Uttam YouTube

Crafting a cinematic narrative with clips of monochrome films from the ’60s not only needs an eye for detail and meticulous planning but also immense patience, and Srijit Mukherji deserves praise for taking on such a challenge.

Oti Uttam revolves around Krishnendu (Anindya Sengupta), who is an ardent fan of Uttam Kumar and is doing a PhD on him. Rebuffed by his love interest Sohini (Roshni Bhattacharya), Krishnendu asks his friend Gourab Chatterjee — Uttam Kumar's grandson, who plays himself in the film — to help summon the spirit of the matinee idol. After all, who better than “love guru” Uttam Kumar, the one who has made all of Bengal fall in love with him, to guide Krishnendu on matters of the heart?

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With Uttam Kumar’s advice, Krishnendu is successful in striking up a friendship with Sohini but things get complicated when she ends up falling in love with Uttam Kumar at the first sight of his spirit form.

While Srijit revisits the trope of a supportive friend aiding the protagonist in his romantic quest — he’s done that in Jaatishwar — this time he adds a comedic twist with the “love guru” being a supernatural entity. The scene in which Krishnendu’s parents (played by Laboni Sarkar and Subhasish Mukhopadhyay) encounter Uttam Kumar’s ghost for the first time will leave you in splits. Or the one where the spirit of the legendary actor enjoys a full-course Bengali meal while an enamoured Laboni Sarkar sheepishly ogles at him.

The young lead cast of Oti Uttam does a commendable job. Anindya Sengupta portrays Krishnendu's vulnerability — pitted against Uttam Kumar's larger-than-life persona — convincingly. Roshni Bhattacharya leaves a mark as the initially aloof but later very-much-in-love Sohini. But the film demands an occasional suspension of disbelief, particularly in scenes where we see Sohini enjoying a meal at a restaurant with a ghost, or when Uttam Kumar’s spirit boards a metro train. There are also heartwarming moments like the ghost visiting Technicians’ Studio and his ancestral home in Bhowanipore.

The integration of dialogue snippets and visuals from Uttam Kumar's films into the narrative has been superbly done. Combing through hundreds of Uttam Kumar's films and tirelessly refining the script to sync with the footage is a tall order that Srijit and his team — comprising cinematographer Soumik Halder and editor Pronoy Dasgupta — have pulled off.

Despite the technical finesse, Oti Uttam makes for a disjointed viewing experience at times because of the constant interchange of Uttam Kumar's appearances — one moment he is in royal attire, the next moment he’s an old man in a simple dhuti panjabi — although a justification for this break in continuity is provided by Uttam Kumar’s spirit himself.

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