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Directed by Satyajit Ray
Produced by RDB
Written by Satyajit Ray
Starring Uttam Kumar,
Sharmila Tagore,
Bireswar Sen,
Somen Bose,
Nirmal Ghosh,
Premangshu Bose,
Sumita Sanyal,
Ranjit Sen,
Bharati Devi,
Lali Chowdhury,
Kamu Mukherjee,
Susmita Mukherjee,
Subrata Sensharma
Distributed by Edward Harrison
Release date(s) 1966
Running time 120 min
Language Bengali

Nayak (Bengali: নায়ক), released in the US as Nayak: The Hero is a 1966 film written and directed by Satyajit Ray. It was Ray's second entirely original screenplay (after Kanchenjungha). The story concerns a matinee idol (played by Uttam Kumar) on a cross-country train journey, who is placed in the midst of various psychodramas unfolding among a varied cast of mostly wealthy characters.


A famous star of Bengali films, Arindam (Uttam Kumar), has been invited to the capital to receive a prestigious award. As all the flights are booked, he is forced to travel by a train from Calcutta to New Delhi. He is in a foul mood as the morning's papers are filled with his being involved in an altercation and his latest film is slated to become his first flop.In the restaurant car, he meets Aditi (Sharmila Tagore), a young journalist who edits a serious women's magazines. Filled with contempt for the likes of him, she secretly plans to interview him because she thinks it would make a saleable 'copy'. It soon leads to him unwittingly pouring out his life history. The interraction also brings to surface the inner insecurities of Arindam's character and his consciousness of the limitations of his 'powers'. Aditi initially takes notes, surreptitiously, but later on, out of empathy almost bordering on pity, abandons it. However, critical of the star, she interrogates him and the star ends up re-examining his life. In a series of conversations with Aditi, he also reveals his past and guilts.

Arindam talks about Shankarda, his mentor, taking us back to his early youth. His selling out to films and giving up theatre against the wishes of his old teacher... His first day's shoot, and he being snubbed by a successful actor Mukunda Lahiri. A few years later Mukunda Lahiri, now a forgotten actor after a series of flops, comes to him to beg for a small part. He rejects the ageing actor in revenge. His taking refuse in alcohol. And his refusing to help a friend in politics.

Toward the end of the train journey, Arindam is drunk and contemplates suicide. He asks the conductor to fetch Aditi. He begins to confess an affair with a married woman. But Aditi stops him. It was an affair with the heartless and ambitious Promila, which ended in a brawl with her husband.

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


External links

A screenshot featuring Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore


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