Nayak (1966 film)

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Nayak (The Hero)
Nayak Indian film poster.jpg
Original Indian poster
Directed bySatyajit Ray
Written bySatyajit Ray
Produced byR. D. Banshal
Sharankumari Bansal
StarringUttam Kumar
Sharmila Tagore
CinematographySubrata Mitra
Edited byDulal Dutta
Satyajit Ray
Music bySatyajit Ray
R. D. Banshal & Co.
Distributed byEdward Harrison (US)
Release dates
  • 6 May 1966 (1966-05-06) (India)
  • 19 July 1974 (1974-07-19) (US)
Running time
117 minutes

Nayak (also released under the translated title The Hero, and as Nayak: The Hero) is a 1966 Indian Bengali-language drama film composed, written, and directed by Satyajit Ray. It was Ray's second entirely original screenplay, after Kanchenjungha (1962). The story revolves around a matinee idol on a 24-hour train journey from Kolkata to Delhi to receive a national award. However, he ends up revealing his mistakes, insecurities and regrets to a young journalist, who realises that behind all his arrogant facade lies a deeply troubled man as his life's story is gradually revealed through seven flashbacks and two dreams.[1][2]


The plot of the film has to some extent been inspired by Wild Strawberries of Ingmar Bergman.[3] A famous actor of Bengali films, Arindam Mukherjee (Uttam Kumar), is invited to the capital, Delhi to receive a prestigious award. He travels by the train. The morning newspaper arrives and carries with it an article on an altercation he had been involved in. In the restaurant car, he meets Aditi Sengupta (Sharmila Tagore), a young journalist who edits a modern women's magazine, Adhunika.[2] Filled with contempt for the likes of him, she secretly plans to interview him because she thinks it would attract more readers. He soon starts to reveal his personality, and also brings to surface the inner insecurities and his consciousness of the limitations of his 'powers'. Aditi initially takes notes, surreptitiously, but later on, out of empathy almost bordering on pity, stops. However, critical of the star, she interrogates him, leading to further introspection on his part. Slowly, his guilt about the way things turned out is very visible.

Arindam also mentions Shankar-da, his mentor, who had never wanted Arindam to join films, being a strong opposer of the medium. He talks about his first day in film, and on the different experiences he faced with other workers in the field and some of the things that happened to them.

Toward the end of the train journey, Arindam is drunk and feels a need to confide his wrongdoings. He asks the conductor to fetch Aditi. He begins to reveal the reason behind the altercation he was a part of, but Aditi stops him, as she has already guessed. It was an affair he'd had with one of his co-actors, Promila. Afraid that he might commit suicide, Aditi makes sure he returns to his cubicle, before going back to her own.

As the star re-lives and examines his life with Aditi, a bond develops between them. Aditi realizes that in spite of his fame and success, Arindam is a lonely man, in need of empathy. Out of respect for him, she chooses to suppress the story and tears up the notes she has written. She lets the hero preserve his public image.



Soundtrack album by
Satyajit Ray

All music is composed by Satyajit Ray.

1."Arindam Theme"1:52


Ray wrote the screenplay of the film at Darjeeling in May, where he went during off-season from filming. Even then he had Uttam Kumar in his mind for the lead, but not as an actor, rather a "phenomenon". The film was shot in the latter half of 1965. In a letter by Ray in 1966, he wrote:

I wanted a relationship to develop between the Matinee Idol and a girl on the train. Romance was out – the time being so short – but I wanted something with an interesting development. The transition from apathy mixed with a certain dislike, to sympathetic understanding, seemed a promising one. So I made Aditi a slightly snooty sophisticate who questions and resists the easy charm, good looks, sangfroid, etc etc. of the Idol, until she discovers there’s an area where he is helpless, lonely, and in need of guidance. From the point where he begins to unburden himself, Aditi can ignore his façade because she’s had a glimpse of what lies beneath. At first he is ‘material’ for her for a journalistic probe, until the process of unbarring reaches a point where she realizes it would be unethical to exploit it. Sympathy and desire to help is the next step. The bond between the two is tenuous, but real. Intellectually clearly above him, her goodness consists in providing him with the small area of contact that exists between them... [4]



Preservation and restoration[edit]

The film is one of four Ray films which were digitally restored and set for a re-release in January 2014.[1]

The Academy Film Archive preserved Nayak in 2004.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Second look: Satyajit Ray's 'Nayak' revisited". Livemint. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b Darius Cooper (13 January 2000). The Cinema of Satyajit Ray: Between Tradition and Modernity. Cambridge University Press. pp. 102–. ISBN 978-0-521-62980-5.
  3. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "NAYAK vs WILD STRAWBERRIES | Inspiration Behind Satyajit Ray's masterpiece | Uttam Kumar | Bergman". YouTube.
  4. ^ Andrew Robinson (1989). Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye. University of California Press. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-0-520-06946-6.
  5. ^ "Berlinale 1966: Prize Winners". Retrieved 24 February 2010.
  6. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.

External links[edit]