Nayakan (1987)

 ●  Tamil ● 2 hrs 35 mins

Where did you watch this movie?

Inspired from the true life story of the Bombay gangster Varadarajan Mudaliar, this epic saga plots the complex events in the life of a young boy that transforms him into a ruthless mafia don. When the impulsive young boy is witness to his father, a trade union activist, being brutally murdered by the police in Tuticorin, he runs away to Bombay and becomes Velu Naicker, the ruthless Godfather with a Robin Hood streak in the Dharavi slums. Velu becomes Bombay’s minority Tamil population’s ‘Nayakan’ (hero/star/leader) and saviour. His daughter Charu (Karthika) walks out of the crime and violence ridden life, and marries the assistant chief of police. Will law enforcement capture Velu and punish him for his criminal activities? Will the millions of South Indians who benefit from his benevolent rule succeed in protecting their "Nayakan"?
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Saranya Ponvannan

Crew: Mani Ratnam (Director), PC Sreeram (Director of Photography), Ilaiyaraaja (Music Director)

Rating: A (India)

Genres: Crime, Drama

Release Dates: 21 Oct 1987 (India)

Tamil Name: நாயகன்

Movie Rating
Based on 1 rating
0 user 0 critic
Music Rating
Based on 1 rating
0 user 0 critic
Did you know? This movie marked the debut of actress Saranya Ponvannan. Read More
No reviews available. Click here to add a review.
as Velu Nayakar
Special Appearance
Special Appearance
as Aiyyer
as Selvam
as Charumati
as Vaapa
as Assistant Commissioner/Charu's Husband
as Surya
Supporting Actor
as Shaktivelu's Father
as Shyla
as Ajith Kelkar
as Thurai




Production Company




Screenplay Writer
Story Writer
Dialogue Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography
Assistant Cameraman


Sound Mixer


Art Director


Film Type:
Spoken Languages:
English, Hindi
Colour Info:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:

Music Director: Ilaiyaraaja
Lyricist: Pulamaipithan
Playback Singer: Ilaiyaraaja, Kamal Haasan

Music Director: Ilaiyaraaja
Lyricist: Ilaiyaraaja
Playback Singer: Ilaiyaraaja

Music Director: Ilaiyaraaja
Lyricist: Pulamaipithan
Playback Singer: KS Chithra, Mano

Music Director: Ilaiyaraaja
Lyricist: Pulamaipithan
Playback Singer: MS Rajeswari, K Jamuna Rani

Music Director: Ilaiyaraaja
Lyricist: Pulamaipithan
Playback Singer: P Susheela, TL Maharajan
Movie Connection(s):
Dubbed into: Nayakudu (Telugu)
Dubbed into: Velu Nayakan (Hindi)
Remade as: Dayavan (Hindi)
Spoofed in: Dumm Dumm Dumm (Tamil)
Spoofed in: Chellame (Tamil)
Spoofed in: Thamizh Padam (Tamil)
In order to precisely create the milieu in which the "Nayakan" lived, art director Thota Tharani used photographs of the Dharavi slum, a set at Venus Studios in Chennai, which turned out three times more expensive than planned.Thousands of junior artists were hired to create that atmosphere. The remaining portion of this movie was shot at Bombay.

In 2005, the Time Magazine included this movie in its list of "All-Time 100 Best Films". It has also been included in The Moving Arts Film Journal greatest films of all time, and is widely regarded as one of 20 greatest Indian films of all time.

This movie marked the debut of actress Saranya Ponvannan.

The critical and commercial success of this movie established all the main players as pioneers in their respective fields. It also won them National Film Awards (1988) – Kamal Haasan for Best Actor, PC Sreeram for Best Cinematography, and Thotta Tharani for Best Art Direction.

This is legendary music director Ilayaraja's 400th film.

This landmark movie was instrumental in establishing Mani Ratnam as one of India's premier directors.

The film was dubbed in Telugu under the title "Nayakudu", and in Hindi as "Velu Nayakan" (1999).

This movie was India's entry for the best foreign language film at the Oscars in 1987, and has been rated one of the best 100 films of all time by the Time Magazine in 2005

This film is inspired by the true story of Mumbai based Tamil gangster of the 80s, Varada aka Varadarajan Mudaliar, and sympathetically depicts the struggle of South Indians living in Bombay.

Feroz Khan remade the film in Hindi under the title "Dayavan" in 1988.