Nayakudu – Easily one of the greatest Indian movies ever made. It has been included in TIME’s “All-Time 100 Best Films”, and CNN-IBN’s “100 greatest Indian films of all time”. As this majestic piece of cinema completed 33 years we give you a glimspe of things that happened behind the screen…
1) In the mid-1980’s, Muktha Srinivasan narrated a story inspired by The Godfather to Sivaji Ganesan, who agreed to act in the film. Amala and Kamal Hassan were also confirmed to act. But later this decision was dropped.
2) Before working in Nayagan, Mani Ratnam approached Kamal Haasan first time with the script of his debut film Pallavi Anu Pallavi. When Mani met Kamal to narrate the story of PAP, Kamal narrated five stories in return.
3) Before arriving at a Varadharaja Mudaliar inspired biopic, Kamal Haasan had sent the tape of Shammi Kapoor’s Pagla Kahin Kato to Mani Ratnam through Muktha Srinivasan – the producer of Nayagan. But, Mani was not at all interested in remakes. Later, Kamal told Mani – “tape was just to start a conversation.” That was when Mani pitched the idea of a film on the life of Varadaraja Mudaliar.
4) Mani wanted Kamal to have as realistic look as possible. He preferred Hassan in traditional Hindu attire, as opposed to the usual, bearded, and suited gangsters. Kamal was initially hesitant regarding his look and wanted to sport a beard similar to that of his old-aged look in Sagara Sangamam. But Mani Rantnam didn’t want Kamal to sport a look similar to Sagara Sangamam or any of his aged characters in his previous films
5) Kamal Hassan’s Velu Nayakan’s old-age look is heavily influenced by Marlon Brando’s role in The Godfather
6) Saranya was the only person who auditioned for the role of Velu Nayakan’s wife. And she got selected in the screen test right awa as Mani Ratnam was impressed by her looks
7) Raghuvaran was the first choice to play Charumati’s husband character but later Kamal suggested Nassar for this role to Mani Ratnam
8) The initial budget for the film was 6 million but the producers ended spending more than 10 million by the end of shooting of this film
9) Thota Tharani created Dharavi set at Venus Studios, Chennai using photographs as reference.
10) Thenpaandi Cheemaiyile (Tamil) – Nee Gudu Chedirindi (Telugu) was the first thing Ilaiyaraja played when Mani Ratnam narrated the story to him during their first sitting for the film’s composing.
11) Although Kamal has acknowledged Nayakan being inspired by The Godfather, Mani Ratnam has denied this, stating, ‘It’s easy to classify films in simple categories. There’s no similarity to The Godfather.’
12) Nayakudu is Ilayaraja’s 400th film
13) The Censor Board at Chennai initially refused to permit the release of Nayakan, as it was based on a living person
14) Nayakudu was India’s official submission for the academy award for best foreign language film in 1988 at the 60th academy awards; but it was not shortlisted
15) Kamal and Mani met Varadaraja Mudaliar in person, and it was Mudaliar who suggested to Ratnam that Velu Nayakan should die in the end