It was 20 years ago that S. Shankar decided to step into Bollywood with a full-fledged political drama. He pursued his wish to remake one of his own successful films, Mudhalvan (1999). Nayak stars Anil Kapoor as a television cameraman and reporter who works for a news channel. He takes on the Chief Minister, played by Amrish Puri with typical wide-eyed menace. Anil’s character accepts a one-day challenge gig as the Chief Minister. What unfolds later forms the rest of the film’s plot. How he puts an end to the CM’s torment and all the related political corruption is what makes the film a must watch.
The highlight of the film is the narrative, impactful performances by the leads, compelling storyline and hard-hitting dialogues. The makers ensure that it pulls at middle-class righteousness and hence Nayak’s cult following. As the film clocks 20 years of release, let’s recap some interesting facts you may not be aware of:
-A huge set for the television studio was built and more than 700 TV sets, cameras and a large screen were set up to make it appear real. The climax scene in the film shows the studio being destroyed by the CM’s henchmen. The entire scene was real and every piece of equipment on the set was actually smashed to bits.
-Technical reasons delayed the film’s release two weeks. Shankar wanted his first complete Hindi film to be a superior product.
-Shankar approached Aamir Khan and then Shah Rukh Khan to play the lead. However, a communication gap with Aamir did not let the plan materialise. SRK was playing a similar role in Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani so he eventually turned down Shankar’s offer. After they passed, Anil Kapoor tried to convince the filmmaker to take him and that’s how he became the final choice.
-Nayak featured a famous 3D fight scene in a junkyard, which involved Anil being dropped in water. The actor underwent rigorous training for six-seven months to shoot for the scene.
-Anil’s character was named after Rajnikanth’s real name, Shivajirao Gaekwad. The Tamil film, Mudhalvan was actually scripted with the superstar in mind. However, he was unwilling to play the role. Shankar decided to name the lead’s character in the Hindi remake.
-The riot scenes shown in Nayak were filmed on different days and on different occasions.
-For an action scene, Anil was asked to shave his body hair as the shot required him to take off his shirt. The actor expressed to Shankar that he was not comfortable showing his bare body in front of the camera. To which the director asserted that given the importance of the shot in the plot, he will be willing to change the hero but not the sequence.
-Rani Mukerji essayed the female lead as the village belle, Manjari. The part was played by Manisha Koirala in Mudhalvan.
-Shankar went for Rani instead of Manisha to fulfill the part of Manjari as he wanted someone with a bubbly image. He casted Manisha in the Tamil version because she was less visible in the South industry at the time. However, he wanted Rani to depict the role in her own way.