Utpal Dutt, actor, director and writer

Utpal Dutt was an Indian writer, actor and director who mostly acted in Bengali theater, although he also starred in many Hindi and Bengali films. He was born on 29th March, 1929 in Berisal, Bengal (modern day Bangladesh). He studied English at St. Xavier’s college in Calcutta, India. Although he mostly acted in Bengali theater, he toured a number of times with Shakespearean International Theater Company. He was one of the founders of Indian People’s Theater Association. He directed Epic Theaters to encourage discussion and bring change in Bangladesh. The term Epic Theaters was borrowed from Bertolt Brecht.

Dutt acted in many Bengali films, including many by Satyajit Ray. He was also a famous comedian actor in Hindi movies. Notable comic movies that he starred in include Golmaal, Rang Birangi, Naram Garam, Guddi, and Shaukeen. He was awarded Filmfare Best Comedian Award for the former three movies. Other awards he got were National Film Award for Best Actor (1970) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (1990). Dutt was able to balance his two careers as a comedian and very serious director and playwright in Bengal.

Dutt was a Marxist throughout his life; he was an active supporter of the Communist Party of India Marxist. He organized street plays that favored the party. Some of such plays include Tiner Toloar (The Tin Sword), Manusher Odhikare (Human Rights) and Kallol. His other famous play was Laal Durgo (Red Fort).

Dutt’s wife, Shobha Sen, was a theater / film actor. Their daughter, Bishnupriya, became a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Dutt passed away in Calcutta, West Bengal in 1993.