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Aparna Sen, Paran Bandopadhyay felicitated with Mahanayak Samman

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also gave away the Barsha Shera Chalacchitra Samman awards on Uttam Kumar's death anniversary.

Aparna Sen at the Habitat Film Festival earlier this year

Roushni Sarkar

The West Bengal government held its annual Mahanayak Samman function on the 38th death anniversary of the great actor Uttam Kumar yesterday.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and members of the Bengali film fraternity were present on the occasion.

Veteran actress and director Aparna Sen and actor Paran Bandopadhyay were awarded the Mahanayak Samman for this year.

"My heartiest greetings to Aparna Sen and Paran Banerjee! Mahanayak Samman is the biggest award of the West Bengal government for films. It is my honour to have been able to felicitate them,” the chief minister said at the event.

"I was too young when I worked with Uttam Kumar," Aparna Sen told the Millennium Post newspaper after receiving the honour. "But I have one regret, that I could not direct a film with him as the lead actor."

From 'flop master general' to 'Nayak', the artistic journey of Uttam Kumar

Mamata Banerjee said, “Uttam Kumar resides in our midst, in our hearts. He is an evergreen actor. His acting, his mannerisms, and his dialogues still give us goosebumps. Artistes like him are immortal [and live on] through their works. 'Tollywood' [as mainstream Bengali cinema is sometimes called] is incomplete without him. His death anniversary is one of the saddest days of our lives."

Apart from the Mahanayak Samman, Banerjee gave away the Barsha Shera Chalacchitra Samman awards in different categories.

While Nur Islam and Samiul Alam received the Barsha Shera Chalacchitra Samman (child artiste) for their performances in the movie Sahaj Paather Gappo (2017), Manas Mukul Pal received the Best Director award for the same film.

Actor Abir Chatterjee and director Kaushik Ganguly were honoured with the Best Actor award and Best Writer award, respectively, for Bisorjon (2018).

The award for Best Actress went to Mimi Chakraborty for her performance in Dhananjoy (2017).

Singers Haimanti Shukla, Antara Choudhury and Jojo performed songs from Uttam Kumar’s films. Indranil Sen, minister of state for information and cultural affairs, and Vivek Kumar, principal secretary in the department, also joined the singers in bringing alive memories of the legend.

Banerjee spoke about her plan for film industry technicians and artistes and confirmed that a new studio was being built. “We have formed a committee to celebrate 100 years of Bengali cinema," the chief minister said. "We may not have the financial resources, but our talent is superior. We only lack in publicity and marketing. I firmly believe one day we will win over the world.”