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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 1915Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Date of Death 6 December 2000Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Mini Bio (1)

One other earliest stars of the New Theatres' of Calcutta, Uma was born in 1915 in a poor Brahmin family of Calcutta. Her father was Nilmani Chattopadhyay and her mother Radharani. Nilmani hailed from Dacca, East Bengal, British India but was settled in Calcutta. As a child Uma received very little formal education by reasons of poverty but received training in music and dance from an early age because this was easier to fetch money for the impoverished family. Her first teacher in music and dance was Satkari Ganguly. It was Ganguly who took Uma to the stage, where she started work as a group dancer, working in Minerva, Alfred and finally in Russa Theatres. After sometime, she played minor roles in the stage as well and soon became part of a touring group from Calcutta to different parts of undivided Bengal like Chittagong, Cox's Bazar performing on the stage. It was from Russa Theatres' that she was chosen to act in films. Her first screen appearance was in Bangabala (1929) in the role of Subarna. It was a silent film. She had to quit the stage because the authorities would not allow their paid staff to work in films. The other films that followed were Bigraha (1930) where she played Ranima and Abhishek (1931). These were silent, too. Around this period, Umasashi started recording songs for Columbia. At a later stage when she was doing sound films, she shifted to Hindustan Musical Products and remained their exclusive singing artiste. In gramophone records for both Columbia and Hindustan, she was credited as Smt. Uma Devi. Her first sound film was Dena Paona (1931) where she acted in a crowd scene of Gajan and also sang a song Baba Apan Bhola Moder Pagal Chhele along with Miss Abhabati. She was trained for the song by Pankaj Kumar Mallick. The next year she played Rami in Chandidas (1932) of New Theatres and thereby earned for herself a permanent place in the Bengali screen apart from being recognised as a major leading lady of New Theatres. Old cine lovers still remember her performance and her portrayal of the suffering Rami. Soon she became known to the rest of India with her Hindi films, including the Hindi version of Chandidas (1934) which had immortal songs like Prem Nagar Mein, a duet of Uma with K.L. Saigal. Bishnumaya (1932),Ruplekha (1934), Bhagyachakra (1935), Dhoop Chhaon (1935), Daku Mansoor (1934),Desher Mati (1938), Puran Bhagat (1933), Kapalkundala (1933), Bhagyachakra (1935), Anath Ashram (1937), Dharti Mata (1938) were her major movies and her major heroes included Durgadas Bannerjee, K.L. Saigal, Pahadi Sanyal, Prithviraj Kapoor and others. Mr Guru Prasad Deb of the Sovabazar Rajbari, an attorney by profession visited Uma at her residence and at the studio and after a long courtship they decided to tie the knot. It was not an easy job for an actress in those days to take such a bold decision because social acceptance was never to be expected. In fact Uma had to wait for quite sometime to allowed into the ancestral house of the Deb's. With the blessings of Mr. B.N. Sircar, proprietor of New Theatres, she settled down to marital bliss. Her husband was already married and Uma left the glamour world to share the house of her husband with his first wife. This was in 1939, when her contract with N.T. was not over yet. She was gladly given the necessary permission to leave by Mr.Sircar. In time she became the mother of three sons Gouranga Narayan, Soumendra Narayan and Sourendra Narayan and a daughter kanaklata. For the rest of her life Uma remained outside the film world although at an advanced age, she did give interviews to the print and the electronic media and even attended film functions once or twice. In fact her first public appearance was at a BFJA award giving function, where she was the chief guest. She received the Hero Honda Award as the oldest living film legend in 2000. Her last days were not very comfortable and suffering from the effects of a fractured hip bone, she developed complications and breathed her last on the 6th day of December, 2000. Her daughter Kanaklata had predeceased her and she was survived by her sons and their families.With her passing away, a great link with the past was snapped. The news of her death appeared in the newspapers some days after she passed away because her family did not want any publicity.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dr. Jyoti Prakash Guha<jyotiprakasguha@rediffmail.com>

Spouse (1)

Guru Prasad Deb (? - ?) (his death) (4 children)

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