Posted by Praveen in , , , ,

Nayakan... our own godfather
When u think of films on the underworld, what comes to your mind are images filled with blood and gore. Right from frame one, you'll be treated to scene after scene of the ruthless conquests of the gangmen. And by the end of it, you'll be yearning for some peace. But there's one film which is entirely different from all other films of this genre. And its no wonder that this movie comes from India's most brilliant director whose films has always served as a bridge between commercial and parallel cinema- Mani Ratnam. As you might have already guessed, am taking about the all time cult classic 'Nayakan'. This film has, over the years, become a sort of benchmark, a film to which every other underworld film, before and after it, is compared. 'Nayakan' saw the coming together of three of Indian cinema's stalwarts- Mani Ratnam, Kamal Haasan and Ilayaraja. More than that, all three of them gave their best till date. Mani Ratnam with his crisp direction, Kamal Haasan with his breath taking acting and Ilayaraja with his lilting melodies made this film a treasure trove of all that is good in every department of film making.

So what makes 'Nayakan' really different from the rest of the lot? While the usual underworld film focusses on just the 'gore' factor of the main character, Nayakan treads an entirely different path. It traces the life story of the man right from childhood to death. The gradual transformation of the don through various phases of his life is done so seamlessly that you can't help but admire the tight scripting. Kamal Haasan's acting prowess comes to the fore in this film. He morphs easily from the angry young man to the ruthless middle aged don and then finally to the family loving old man. His powerhouse performance makes Don Velu Naikar[was that Mani's nod to Puzzo's Don Vitto Corleone?] one of the most unforgettable characters in Indian cinema. The buildup that Mani carries out on this character is just awesome to say the least. The kid commiting a murder, then as he grow up going into smalltime smuggling, becoming a local goon and finally the all powerful don, the leader of the pack..the Nayakan. This kind of layering and weaving on a single character was unprecedented in Indian cinema and even now, not many have succeeded in this.

Each and every scene of this movie is still fresh in my memory eventhough I watched this some years back. And most memorable of them all is Kamal Haasan's epic crying when he sees his son's deadbody. Believe me, he'll literally make your jaws drop in admiration and disbelief. How can any one act like this!! This single scene makes Nayakan a movie worth watching. The dialogues are simple but utterly brilliant that it hits you right in the middle of the heart. My favorite is when his grandson asks Don Velu- ''Are you a good man or a bad man?'' to which Velu replies - ''I don't know''. Look, how simple. But the way it is delivered is what makes it so special. Kamal's scenes with the corrupt police officer's mentally challenged son is also touching. Then, when his daughter asks him to stop the bloodshed, he delivers some really punching words- ''I'll stop. First ask them to stop..the policemen who killed a labour union leader when he asked for a salary hike, the policeman who killed a poor old man and made it up as a suicide, the seth who tried to bring down the houses of poor slum dwellers, the people who shot ur mother dead at night. Ask them all to stop. Then ill stop....'' This dialogue sometimes reminds me of Russel Crowe's legendary ''father to a murdered son..'' dialogue from Gladiator. Was that a case of Hollywood getting inspired by Tollywood?

Another star of the film is Ilayaraja's melodic music. Who'll forget the song ''Thenbandi cheemayile'', which epitomises the life of Nayakan? This song appears at various critical points of the narrative telling a story of its own. The background score fits to the square. Even the silent scenes carry a beauty of its own. Ilayaraja gives everyone a tutorial on how to make use of silence to heighten the anxeity of a particular scene. The supporting cast delivers some stunning performance although they get overshadowed by Kamal's 'out of the world' acting. Janagaraj as his friend Selva, Nasser as the ACP and son-in-law, Saranya as his wife and Karthika as his daughter all deliver commanding performances. Of this, Jankaraj as Nayakan's friend through thick and thin, especially tugs your heart with his histrionics. The cinematography and carefully lighted scenes are an added bonus to this epic. Mani's eye for detail shines through in almost every scene. You'll still miss some detail even on the 10th watching of this movie. Now, I guess, u can imagine the amount of detail.

The movie won accolades all over. Kamal got a national award for this path breaking performance. I can surely say that no best actor oscar award winner till date could even dream of ever matching his acting. Maybe, thats why I have an utter disregard for the oscars. Recently, Nayakan was included in TIME Magazine's list of 100 best films of the last century. I think TIME magazine should be proud that they included this film in their list, rather than the other way around. Despite all this, I become sad when I think about this movie because the magical duo of Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan has never come together after this movie citing creative differences. Fireworks are bound to happen when two brillaint people meet. Thats what happened in this case too. Hope they get over their differences and come together for an encore. Until then, its Nayakan all the way...

your crusader Praveen

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 15, 2007 at Sunday, April 15, 2007 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


one of mani's best ever!

jabri, i too love the "nee nallavara kettavara?" dialogue.

movies like nayakan can't be forced into happening. case, of things falling into place at the right moment. the movie is just plain amazing.

one of my all-time favs :)

4:44 PM

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

5:07 PM

good post praveen... the movie is still in my mind.. thought i too wantched it long back.. as u said the music is alos too good .. tht makes u listen ot it even now.. chk out .. its a gr8 site for music lovers of tolly bolly and kolly wood.. u can find all ur fav tracks there in just a click.. its tht simple.. try it and enjoy..

6:07 PM

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