Utpal Dutt was an Indian actor, director, writer and playwright. He started his acting career in Bengali theatre, and he went on to make significant contributions to Modern Indian Theatre. He founded a theatre group in 1949 which was known as ‘Little Theatre Group’. During what is now known as the “Epic Theatre” period, this group performed many English, Shakespearean, and Brecht plays. Later, the group got completely engaged in highly political and revolutionary theatre. His plays represented his Marxist ideologies, which is reflected in plays such as Kallol (1965), Tini Toloar, Maha Bidroha and many more. In a 40-year-long-career, Utpal Dutta appeared in more than 100 films in Hindi and Bengali languages.
Utpal Dutt was born on Friday, 29 March 1929 ( age 64years; at the time of death) in Barisal Bengal Presidency, British India (now in Bangladesh). He was especially known as an actor in Bengali theatre. After establishing the ” Little Theatre Group” in 1949 he was considered a revolutionary figure in Modern Indian theatre. This group was popular for performing many English, Shakespearean and Brecht plays, in a time now known as the “Epic Theatre” period before it entirely submerged itself in highly political and revolutionary theatre. His plays were the visualisation for the articulation of his Marxist ideologies which can be seen through his many plays such as Kallol(1965), Manusher Adhikar, Louha Manob (1964), Tiner Toloar and Maha-Bidroha.
Height: 5′ 3″
Weight: 70 kgs
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name was Girijaranjan Dutt.
Wife & Children
In 1960, Utpal Dutt got married to a theatre and film actress Shobha Sen. Shobha Sen was born on 23 September 1923, in Bangladesh. She died on 13th august 2017 after suffering from heart failure in Kolkata. Their only daughter, Bishnupriya Dutt, is a professor of Theatre&perfomance studies at the School of Arts&Aesthtics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Utpal Dutt lead a victorious career in not just in acting but had equal stability in the profession of director, writer-playwright, and theatre activist. He remained a reforming personality in Bengali theatre and Indian cinema for more than 40 years. Although Utpal Dutt was active primarily in Bengali theatre, he started his journey in English theatre. Since his teenage days, he developed his passion and craft in English theatre, which resulted in the establishment of ” The Shakespearens” in 1947. Its first presentation was a powerful production Of Shakespeare’s Richard III, with Utpal Dutt playing the role of king. Geoffrey Kendal and Laura Kendal (parents of actress Jeniffer Kendal) were so impressed with Dutt’s acting that they immediately hired him to work in their ” Shakespearana Theatre Company”. After joining the theatre company Utpal Dutt did two long tours with them across India and Pakistan performing Shakespeare’s plays, first in 1947-1949 and then in 1953-1954.
His representation of Othello was equally praised. when the owners of Shakespearana Theatre Company left India in 1949, Dutt decided to rename his group as “Little Theatre Group”. This group then continued to enact plays by Ibsen, Shaw, Tagore, Gorky and Konstantin Simonov. The group later established itself to enact Bengali plays and it later progressed into a production company that would produce various Bengali movies. Through West Bengal, he also performed as part of Gananatya Sangha, which was active in rural areas. Utpal Dutt also published books on Shakespeare and revolutionary theatre.
He was also a founding member of the Indian People Theatre Association( IPTA), a corporation known for its socialist learning, but left it after starting his theatre group. While he was enacting the role of Othello, a famous filmmaker Madhu Bose gave him the lead in his film Michael Madhusudhan; the film depicts the life of an Indian poet, Michael Madhusudhan Dutt. Later, he wrote a play on Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt. He also gave memorable performances in many Bengali films directed by Satyajit Ray.
His excellent acting can be seen in many roles in Hindi movies such as Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome(1969), Satyajit Rau’s Agantuk(1991) and one of the popular comedy movies of Hrishikesh Mukherjee Gol Maal in 1979. Dutt was praised for his extraordinary acting in movies Guddi, Gol Maal, Naram Garam and Rang Birangi.
He was equally praised for his stability in managing successful parallel careers as an extreme determined theatre playwright and director in Bengali films and at the same time doing hilariously comic roles in Indian cinema. He is known for his major contribution to the developing Bengali theatre of the 20th century. Dutt was known as a determined Marxist and an active follower of the Communist Party of India. His” Revolutionary Theatre” created a very powerful effect in Contemporary Bengali theatre. H also went to jail in 1965 after staging a classic play known as Kallol which entails the story of the mutiny of Indian sailors against other British on the Arabian Sea.
I believe any discussion on films in semi-colonial or newly independent countries must start from the illiteracy, poverty and cultural starvation of the masses” wrote Utpal Dutt in an essay in 1979.
He also directed many movies such as Megh (1961), A Psychological Thriller, Ghoom Bhangar Gaan(1965) and Inqualib Ke Baad(1984).
Awards and Achievements
- In 1970 Utpal Dutt was awarded National Film Award for best actor in the movie Bhuvan Shome.
- He was awarded Filmfare best comedian award for movies such as Gol Maal(1980), Naram Garam(1982) and Rang Birangi(1984).
- He was also awarded the Bengali Film Journalist Association award as the best actor for the movie Agantuk.
- Utpal Dutt was nominated for the Filmfare best-supporting actor award in movies like Amanush, Gol Maal and Saaheb.
Utpal Dutt died on 19 August 1993 after he suffered from a heart attack. Right before his death, he was undergoing dialysis in S.S.K.M hospital, Calcutta
- Aamir Khan‘s mother in ‘Lagan’ once played the female lead actor opposite Utpal Dutt.
- He also remained a teacher of English at the South Point School in Kolkata.
- Utpal Dutt started his career in English theatre when he was studying at St, Xavier’s College, Kolkata
- Utpal Dutt first Hindi film was ‘Saat Hindustani’ directed by K. A. Abbas and not ‘Guddi’, Reportedly, this movie was also the debut film of Amitabh Bachchan.