Nayakan (Eng: The Hero) is a 1987 Indian Tamil-language gangster film written and directed by Mani Ratnam. It stars Kamal Haasan and Saranya in lead roles. It is loosely based on the real-life Bombay underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar, and sympathetically depicts the struggle of South Indians living in Bombay (now Mumbai). The film also stars Saranya Ponvannan in her film debut. Karthika, Nassar, Janagaraj, Delhi Ganesh and Tinnu Anand play significant roles. The soundtrack and the background score of the film, composed by Ilaiyaraaja were critically acclaimed and considered by critics as one of his best works to that point.
Nayakan was released on 21 October 1987 on the occasion of Diwali and received critical acclaim. Haasan’s performance earned him the National Film Award for Best Actor. The film also earned the National Awards for Best Cinematography (P. C. Sriram) and Best Art Direction (Thotta Tharani). The film was India’s official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988 at the 60th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.
In 2005, the magazine TIME included Nayakan in its list of “All-Time 100 Best Films”. The film was also included in The Moving Arts Film Journal’s list of greatest films of all time. Nayagan was also included in NDTV’s list “India’s 20 greatest films”. CNN-IBN included the film in its list of “100 greatest Indian films of all time”.
Directed by Mani Ratnam
Produced by Muktha Srinivasan, Muktha V. Ramaswamy & G. Venkateswaran
Written by Mani Ratnam
Starring Kamal Haasan, Saranya, Karthika
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography P. C. Sreeram
Edited by B. Lenin & V. T. Vijayan
Production Muktha Films
Distributed by G. V. Films
Release date 21 October 1987
Running time 135–155 minutes