Nayakan (1987) Poster


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One of the best Indian movies I have ever seen.
siva_kumar21 February 2001
The film draws heavily upon Mario Puzo's Godfather, however, the Indian adaptation of the well known story is simply superb. Manirathnam has done a wonderful job in re-creating the life and times of a local mafioso in the slums of Bombay. The art direction is flawless, and captures the time period perfectly. The music by Illayaraja is haunting, and reflects the nostalgic music of the early 70s. However, the high point of the movie is the excellent performance of Kamal Hassan. His potrayal of Velu-Nayakan is by far the best I have seen in Indian movies. The Hindi remake of this movie is sub-standard and poor. I highly recommend this movie to someone who has never seen it before.
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ozzyrocks862 January 2004
Kamal Hassan's extraordinary performance is the highlight of the film. This movie is perhaps the greatest gangster movie made in India, even though it is heavily inspired by the Al Pacino-starrer The Godfather. Kamal rightfully won the National Award for his performance. Great cast, great performances, solid direction from Mani Rathnam, great screenplay = one great movie. Highly recommended. A+.
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The best middle-of-the-road Indian film
dvdfile27 September 2004
Mani Ratnam rose to fame with this superb, Godfather-inspired, crime story. Kamal Hassan, in a National Award-winning role, is the highlight of this film. WAtch out for the scene where he says "Naa adichcha nee sethuruve (You will die if I hit you)" to a police officer. Based on a real-life don, Varadarajan Mudaliar, Nayagan was praised by critics and audience alike, a rarity in India. Illayaraja's music is haunting. "Tenpaandi Cheemayile", sung by Kamal Hassan, is a classic. Photography is brilliant. Mani Ratnam is top-of-the-pops. Sign of things to come? Janakaraj as the gangster's friend is an inspired selection. This is as good as it gets for bridge cinema.
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One of all time greats
pvsk6 August 2001
One of the movies where the star cast have lived the roles not just performed , well supported by Editing, Cinematography and background score . A must see. KamalHasan has given really a masterly performance for which he got the national award rightly.
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a maniratnam classic, ..brings out the tear drop in you.
kr-aravind26 February 2006
It is really difficult to express the experience of watching nayakan in words, the real life story about the transformation of a boy into a rebel and then a don, brilliantly portrayed by one of the greatest actors alive today, Kamal Hassan.

While the film draws little inspiration from "The Godfather trilogy", the emotions and trauma associated with many events , along with ilayaraja's rendition of 'thenpandi seemayile' , really does make this movie very special!, nothing to beat this one, among the best movies i have ever seen. I can rate it along with American beauty, shawshank redemption or even amelie.
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Truly inspired and inspirational!!!
karthikvselvaraj5 October 2005
Inspired by the true life story of Mumbai's Tamil don, Varadaraja Mudaliar, the movie 'Nayakan' portrays it so vividly and realistically of how the real-time character known popularly as 'Varadha Bhai' fled Tuticorin(Tamil Nadu) to seek his future in Mumbai. He came to be known as one of the godfathers of modern gangsterdom. Some other prominent names during his period were Karim Lala, etc. The days he spent fighting Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray who tried to run the Tamils out of Mumbai are golden days in history. Probably, the respect and influence Varadaraj Mudaliar had among the public inspired people like Dawood Ibrahim and others to take to such businesses. Mani Ratnam deserves full credit for the subject and screenplay. Kamal Hassan at the best of his career at an age of 32 playing the character of a 60-year-old man so perfectly with utmost ease.
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The Godfather comes to Tamil, with a difference
Hemanth-214 August 2001
Even though Nayagan seems like a compressed version of The Godfather series and despite the fact that a lot of the scences in the movie give you sense of deja vu(after you've watched Godfather. Nayagan is probably one of the best movies made in Tamil(and may be in any Indian language). Apart from changing the very face of movie making in India, it had send so many refreshing trends.

Nayagan is the story of a boy(Velu), who loses his father(a Trade Union leader) and runs away to Bombay, after assualting the Police who kills his father. In Bombay he is brought up by a pious Muslim fisherman. By turn of events, Velu is pulled into committing Crime(and fighting too). Velu grows into a Don and slowly the power of it takes him to a different world, where he is the command, but he slowly losses his dear ones and it finally ends with his death at an old age, with a moral message that one who lives by the sword(gun), dies by it.

Kamal had given one of his best performances in this movie, for which he rightfully won the National Award for Best Actor. The Music of Illayaraja, Photography of P C Sreeram and the Art of Thotta Tharani were other High points of the movie, not to mention the magical touch of Manirathnam, who made a permanent name for himself after making Nayagan.

A must watch movie, for anyone who hasn't seen it.
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classic....... by Mr. Mani ratnam
chennaimarina_1230 July 2006
this film is an out an out kamal hassan and Mani ratnam film, without Mani ratnam kamal would not have been able to display his magic, and without kamal, Mani would not have been able to show his magic. velu is a boy living in Tamil nadu. his father a labor leader is murdered by a ruthless police officer. velu decides to take revenge, and is supported by his friend, Sela(janagaraj). they both kill the police officer, and escape to Bombay, where they get shelter in a Muslim house hold. kamal naturally treats "Abba" the Muslim man, who is into smuggling. when he gets old he hands the small business to velu, who extracts more money for goods than his precede ever did. the rival parties get angry and pay bribe to a police man to get Abba killed. when velu gets to know this, he tracks down the police officer tactically. i must stop here to mention the marvellous sequence . great background score, Mani ratnam at his best, and kamal looking totally angry. he kills the police officer in front of everybody. the police officer though married used to molest women. the police came inquiring, but no one opened their mouth. from that day onwards velu became 'velu nayagan'. he became the ultimate don in Bombay, supporting the poor's cause, and going to any extent to fulfill it. he even got a poor child treatment in one of the best hospitals in Bombay for free. you must watch the movie, i can't spell its magic here, you have to watch it!
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Watch it!
you_can_do_it28 December 2004
This is, till date, the best Indian movie ever made. A fantastic star cast(Kamal Haasan, Nasser, Janakaraj), splendid direction(Mani Rathnam) and excellent music score by the maestro Illayaraja made the movie do wonders in the box office. Kamal Haasan, who was already a super star when this movie was made, proved that he can get into any ones shoes. Here he played the role of an angry young man who becomes a Mafia don with almost the entire city supporting him. With this movie and a National Award for the Best Actor, he came to be known as the best actor in Indian Cinema.

Mani Rathnam became a nation-wide celebrity with this movie and every movie he made after Nayagan raised expectations among the audience.

The story is that of a Mafia don, who is a kind of Robin hood for his own people, takes justice into his hands and kills the baddies. He earns respect from his people, incurs the wrath of the other underworld thugs, and is feared by the police, till a honest cop decides to challenge him. Though the story is similar to The Godfather, the way in which this movie is shot is different and keeps the viewer engrossed from the first scene till the end, when the 60 year old hero is assassinated in public for a brutal murder he did 30 years back.

Nayakan - Slick, stylish and interesting.

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this movie is worth watching and the hero's acting in this movie is too is one Guy who can eat up all Hollywood stars easily if gets the opportunity
s_ravi8528 April 2006
This movie rotates around a single person, Kamal Hassan. Its simply an amazing movie and full credits to the director Mani Ratnam and Kamal for their brilliant, extraordinary, great, satisfying,superb work... No words to say. better u watch the movie

in Nayakan all the characters have done an excellent work. Music by Ilayaraja the maestro himself and his works definitely needs recognition all over the world. Even now the songs are worth hearing and very very great.The camera man has done an beautiful work and full credits to him for bringing out an excellent picture to our eyes..

The greatness of the movie is that it shows all the stages of men, and Kamal's acting shows his true potential and his exceeding talent, its a proud feeling for me to know that the hero is in tamil industry and speaking my language.

Watch this movie and enjoy the movie as much as i did . . . . . . . . . .
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stop calling it a remake
murali8312 September 2005
now, lets get this straight, godfather was a bad adaptation of the novel and that becomes one of the all time best movies. if manirathnam makes a movie out of the real life story of velunayagam mudaliar then it is called a remake of godfather, what crappy logic is this.

In all aspects the movie is perfect, acting by kamal, direction is amazing and mind blowing music by the maestro Illayaraja.

set in the slums of bombay, it shows the life of velu who becomes a local don just like it happened in the true life of velunayagam mudaliar. the dialogues are memorable and the dialogue between kamal and his grandson is something that i can never forget.

watch it rightaway and stop this crap about it being a remake of godfather. Hollywood has made 100's of movies better than godfather, but nayagan is by and far among the 5 best movies ever made in India.
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Crown of Tamil cinema
mailmesudhakars24 February 2019
This is pride of tamil cinema, one of the precious stone of Kamal crown.
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i don't find how is it related to godfather.
ravisuniverse20 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
i find lot of people mentioning the movie has its roots from godfather. which i don't know how. some are saying that they have seen the godfather Tamil people are stupid enough to buy the Indian version. then do they others are stupid enough for watching a movie inspired by a book.

the movie is absolutely fun to watch even though it's been 20 years since the movie has been actually made. good direction, acting, music, screenplay makes the movie a reason not to miss this.the movie is actually well edited . the two songs in this movie are good . while compared to other , especially recent Mani Ratnam movies like Guru where the songs pop out with out any reference to the movie, Nayakan has every song and scene in a right place.
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Mani Ratnam & Kamal Hassan create history with this masterpiece
AvinashPatalay26 May 2011
"Nayagan" is akin to a rare astronomical event wherein the constellations form a perfect alignment to create a spectacular extravaganza. Mani Ratnam, Kamal Hassan & Ilayaraja weaved magic that captured the heart of audience by storm.

There cannot be a second opinion if I were to state that this role was destined for one and only Kamal Hassan. You cannot fail to notice the subtle changes in the body language, mannerism, gait and dialogue delivery that go about with the ageing process of the Sakthivelu. Starting with the rebel youth and all the way to the ageing Godfather, the natural transformation was effortlessly essayed by Kamal. Saranya, Ravi, Kartika, Nasser and Tinnu Anand leave a mark otherwise there isn't much scope for supporting star-cast.

Ilayaraja compositions were a raging hit back then. P C Sriram (cinematography) & Thota Tharani (art direction) ensured to give a distinct Mani Ratnam feel to the visuals (a spillover of "Agni Natchathiram").

Though the plot rests on the basic premise of Mario Puzo's "The Godfather", top notch writing narrating the biography of Mumbai based Tamil gangster of the 80s, Varadarajan Mudaliar stands to its own.

If "Mouna Ragam" and "Agni Natchathiram" got him noticed then "Nayagan" stamped the title of maverick to Mani Ratnam. It goes without saying that while "Nayagan" set a precedent for fellow film-makers, Mani Ratnam started the revolution in the Tamil cinema.

PS: The Hindi remake, "Dayavan" attempted by Feroz Khan and Vinod Khanna was sadly a classic case of "lost in translation".
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An mind-blowing excitement from the genius, THE WORLD'S BEST ACTOR KAMAL HAASAN
RadhaRadha18 July 2008
Nayakan is a movie of the century Nayakan is a grade separator bet' olden and modern cinema Kamal Haasan proved the world that he is the best of the best actor in the world Nayakan made a huge turning point in Kamal Haasan's career and of course, Indian Cinma's career Ilaiyarajaa along with Manirathnam, PC Sriram and Thotta Darani given hands to kamal haasan to the historic achievement This film would be a strong contender not only for the top-250 but also for the top position as it is well above the god father, which stands @ No.1 now Congrats to the Universal Hero Kamal Haasan The world expects lot like this from the legend...

See this movie which makes meanings in the life..
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It was on Time Magazines 100 All time movies
kondareddy28 February 2007
If it is featured in the time magazine's 100 all time movies from all over the world, then it must be something. Mani Ratnam has done some great movies in south India. I like all his movies. And he pays more attention to all the details of the movie such as music, photography, casting, editing etc. You can see the quality of the movie and see the involvement of the director in the movie. I treat this more as a Mani Ratnam movie than Kamal Hasan though Kamal is one of my favorite actors. Go rent the movie. You will not be disappointed. Also, check out Mani Ratnam's other movies such as Roja, Mouna Raagam (Telugu), Githanjali, Sakhi, Iddaru, Guru etc. Also, in case you didn't already know, A R Rahman was introduced by Mani Ratnam through Roja.

Check out.
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gr8 movie
ashwath-kannan2 February 2007
This movie by Maniratnam is definitely one of the finest movie ever made on the planet. It has got tremendous performance by Kamal Hassan who portrays various shades of emotions. The cinematography by PC Sriram is excellent. The movie should have definitely won Academy awards for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Actor and Best director. It begins with a young boy who has lost his father and comes to Bombay from his village and the social pressures makes him a Don-a saviour for the Tamil community of the slum area-Dharavi. The film shows various stages of Velu to Velu Nayakar. VeluNayakan is the modern day Robinhood who protects his folks in all the ways he can.

Amazing screenplay and the natural lightings used throughout the film speaks for the cinematography. Best scenes are Velu Nayakar standing on the balcony of his house and people standing down..amazingly shot

The movie very well captures the life of a Mumbai based Don. Kudos to Maniratnam for Nayakan.
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A Godfather remake???????? Wake Up Pple
arun_y8813 December 2005
one of the best Indian movies ever......may be even the best.....

one thing i cant understand is how can a movie which is based on the life of Varadharaja Mudhaliar be a copy of THE GODFATHER.....

come on guys not every Indian movie is a Hollywood remake......

i hope no 1 says Varadharaja Mudhaliar lived his life according to Mario Puzo's godfather

its a shame the way people try to compare every Indian movie to a Hollywood one....

it has nothing to do with godfather even though people like to compare both....
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The best Tamil movie I have ever seen
peanutz45430 June 2005
I have lived most of my life in North India watching both Bollywood and Hollywood cinema. The first Tamil movie I saw was Roja (dubbed in Hindi) by director Mani Ratnam. The director's class was apart from any other Indian director. Clearly Ratnam was able to mix two genres of Indian Cinema that are the opposite ends of each other. Roja was both Art and Commercial (some would say neither.) I saw two more Ratnam movies and a lot of other Tamil movies before I saw Ratnam's Nayakan.

Before I saw it, Nayakan was the kind of movie you hear people talk about with a certain air of sophistry. My Tamil friends showed me a lot of Tamil movies and then we would judge them. Mostly they tried to convince me the movie I just saw was good even though according to me it was not by any standard. I was beginning to feel Tamil cinema is about as bad as Hindi cinema. Hindi Cinema at least had a golden period; Tamil movies seemed to get worse as you went back in time. I blamed it on my lack of understanding of both Tamil language and Tamil culture. Ratnam I was starting to believe was a Hindi director.

Nayakan was the first Mani Ratnam movie I saw in Tamil (subtitles.) By the end I was convinced that Nayakan is probably the best Tamil movie I have ever seen. It is impossible not to notice how much this movie is inspired from Godfather. The theme is similar, the movie follows the life of Velunayakan as he rises on to become an influential smuggler and fighter of people's cause in the slums of Dharavi (Bombay.) Nayakan is Indian version of Godfather both in its setting and its message (emphasis on Indianess). Though I am told that it is based on someone's real life. So mostly Ratnam is paying homage to The Godfather. Nayakan suffers from the cheesiness of most Indian movies, it suffers from what is called the item number - the rain dance, featuring a supposedly sexy dancer. How someone does anything but laugh at a dancing obese woman is only for Tamil movie buffs to explain. Since they explained it to me I will explain it here: the context that this mediocrity should be seen in is this - Tamil audience wants everything from a movie action, laughter, morality, and sex - but not really, sex is taboo. So they end up tantalizing themselves with glimpses of it in a dance. But as soon as you fast forward through this one song, Nayakan comes back to showing its strength again - and this time with a vengeance. What I saw of Nayakan in the first half was an average movie, if only you sit through till the end do you realize how strong the movie is. The direction the acting and the story all begin to mature in the second half of the movie.

Nayakan is a very Indian movie and that too very Tamil. If you have never seen a Tamil movie you will not be able to appreciate Nayakan in one viewing. What will stand out will be the differences from the kind of movie you have seen. Those differences will over shadow the qualities that Nayakan has.

I have said a lot of things about Tamil movies that paints a shoddy picture of Tamil cinema. But my views may suffer from a skew introduced by the small sample size. There probably are many good Tamil movies that I have not seen.

**By the way, Nayakan was in Time Magazine's list of 100 best movies. May 2005 Issue I think.**
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A must see for true movie fans
bgguru5 November 2008
Undoubtedly the best Indian film with legends like Kamalhasan,Manirathanam and unparralled Ilaiayaraja.Though many compare it to godfather,it has its own specialties.kamalhassan whose acting in the film is world class.Maniratnams depiction of various periods from 50s to 80s makes everyone surprise that a TAMILdirector can equal Hollywood.I watch this film every now and then.Though repeatedly watched every time the movie gives new meanings.If the godfather hadn't been earlier,our own kamalahassan would have won the Oscar.Thats for sure.Those who still not watching this film are not fit to be good film fans.
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Inspired from GODFATHER ........ Not copied!
faizermohomed511 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I would rate this movie as a glowing example of the essence being inspired but the setup, execution and the ultimate product being original. people argue that the look of older Kamal's make-up being similar to that of Marlon Brando, the way Kamal cries when his son is killed is similar to the performance of Marlon Brando etc.. But no one can argue the fact that the scene build up and the way the story was setup was not lifted from the God Father, there are so many movies that are copied scene by scene (as a matter of fact the Hindi film Dayavan was a scene to scene copy of Nayakan but failed miserably!) but here the genius called Mani Ratnam has adopted the basic storyline and Indianized and made a masterpiece around a character (co-incidentally resembled much to the local Dharavi don Varadha Bhai) which was immortalized by Padmashree Dr. Kamal Haasan. A must watch for anyone who has an eye for meaningful entertainers with the best technicians in the industry at rollicking form firing all cylinders from Mani Ratnam, Kamal Haasan to Thotta Tharani, Ilaiyaraja, P.C Sreeram etc.
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Classic. Heartbreaking.
toblerkit2 November 2006
I was shocked to see some people, who obviously have'nt seen this movie, call it the Indian version of the Godfather. The only resemblance between this movie and the Godfather is that both deal with the underworld and Nayagan does so only at a much later point of time in the movie. This isn't your run of the mill Tollywood entertainer but a rather unique and gripping movie shot in Bombay's dharavi slum areas. Kamal Hassan delivers an unbelievable performance and I simply don't understand why he isn't regarded India's best actor, instead of other posers from Bollywood? In one shot, Mani Ratnam has made a Tamil movie that puts every single Bollywood movie released to date, to shame.
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The God Father of India
mugamoodi724 October 2006
An amazing movie that changed the trend of Indian cinemas during the late eighties. Is three hours enough to show the life of a man at different stages and that too with a heavy emotion that will make you to think about it again and again ? the answer is yes and the proof is Nayakan. Kamalhasan i believe if he would have born in Hollywood by now he will be sharing the honors with Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson. Such a great actor who can show the difference in each and every single action he does. The movie is a biography of a commoner who raises to the level of the God father but the way Maniratnam told the story is really interesting. The Climax of the movie created a big impact when it was released. Even now this movie is considered as a mile stone for the young directors who would like to direct a great movie. Nayakan for sure is the "Godfather" of India .
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One of Kamal Hassan's best roles.
jackbox1200212 November 2005
Nayagan is the story of an orphan from South India who is taken in by a poor family in Bombay. It shows his rise from poverty to becoming the most powerful man in the Bombay underworld. The movie is exceptionally well made and wouldn't be the same without the theme music.An exploration of what is right and what is wrong and what matters in life. It is a very sad movie, violent at times, thought provoking. WEll directed and dubbed into several Indian languages, this is one of Mani Ratnam's best character portrayals and draws comparisons with The Godfather's Don Corleone. It is my favorite tamil movie and I can never forget the haunting soundtrack.
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One of the best films I have ever seen
its-me661127 January 2020

Velu Naicker (Kamal Haasan) runs away after killing a police who unjustly killed his father in front of him. Now orphan, Velu Naicker walks the road of Bombay. There he meets another boy from Tamilnadu and later gets taken in by his family. The old man of the family works as a smuggler on the side and Naicker also helps. Years later, now grown up and young Naicker has another run in with the police and this time his path changes again. He takes on a new role of being the savior of his people from oppression of rich and powerful.

The film chronicles the life of Velu Naicker, from youth to old age. His life is mostly defined by his adopted father's belief that anything that helps others is not wrong.

I have seen recent works of Mani Ratnam. After seeing Nayakan I have more respect and appreciation for his contributions in Indian cinema. The way film flows, the amazing visuals makes it hard to believe that it is from 1987. I loved the music.

I have loved Kamal Haasan's recent films and consider him as one of the best actors of all time. But what he did in this film blew me away. I never expected such performance. His acting is incredible. As a young man he is raw, volatile, and angry. As he ages he gets bigger in his presence. As an old man he is a force of stability, a man who exudes power and someone who was scarred deeply by life. All these emotions are portrayed by his body language, expressions and voice tone. And while he is giving this diverse range of emotion he always comes across as relatable and likable. It is incredible to see him in his Naicker avatar.

I have seen the film last night and still the lingering feelings are there. This is such a well-made film, the drama, the music, the acting everything is amazing. One of the best films I have ever seen.
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