If there’s any fine Indian adaptation of Coppola’s eternal classic ‘The Godfather’, it’s undoubtedly Maniratnam’s ‘Nayakan’. The way he layered this Tamil version with some changes in the original is still unparalleled by any other Indian film. Maniratnam has remarkably shaped the character of local Mafia with totally Indian touch recreating myth of hero/leader/star from Tutikorin in south to Mumbai’s slum. Infect from acting to the technical divisions of production including screenplay, dialogues, songs, violence, and even entertainment shows the quality of his filmmaking. With this film Maniratnam created a niche for himself as one of the standard commercial directors who know how to balance art and commerce in the same product without sacrificing the director’s idea.
Kamal Hasan made an everlasting impression as a master actor with this film and that’s the reason why he got his third National Award as Best Actor for this film. If I’m not mistaking he’s perhaps the only actor who won National Award four times. In all the phase of Vellu Nayakan’s career from youth to old age and from the rise and the fall of Mafia, Kamal brings the depth of a meticulous performance as an actor quite rare to see in Indian cinema. There are many memorable shots particularly some of the fine human gestures of this master actor. The camera has captured the tone and spirit of Mumbai alive with some of the fine shots covering Mahim and Dharavi slums, Gateway of India and suburban beaches.
Bollywood’s forever macho man and late actor-director Feroz Khan was so passionate about ‘The Godfather’ that he made two Indian adaptation of the original inn his career. The first one was his own version ‘Dharmatma’ and the second one is Hindi adaptation of this Maniratnam version named ‘Dayavan’. But neither of them brings the inter-textual depth of the plot and character, where Maniratnam’s this version leads you towards the emotional-social-political journey of a local Mafia telling a human story without glorifying the myth of underworld.