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Revival of `Nayak` half a century later

2nd May 2018: As we step into Satyajit Ray 97th birth anniversary, we take a look into one of his remarkable movies – Nayak- which completes its 52nd year of release.

As part of the special series of events preceding Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsav, Oxford Bookstores Kolkata hosted an evening of discussions why his famous movie `Nayak` is still remembered by Debashish Mukhopadhyay and Amaresh Chakraborty.

Debashish Mukhopadhyay

Amaresh Chakraborty

Not everyone is familiar with the movie, and that's why a slight recounting of the plot is necessary. Nayak depicts the story of a young actor played by Uttam Kumar, a matinee idol Arindam Mukherjee is going by train to collect an acting award. On the train, he is confronted by a journalist, Aditi who starts to take his interview. A layered personality that the Nayak was, it was indeed interesting to see his life unfold under the direction of Satyajit Ray. It was Ray's second entirely original screenplay, after Kanchenjungha (1962) and was nominated for Golden Bear for Best Film, Berlin International Film Festival, 1966.

`Nayak` is a powerful work of cinema that like most films of Satyajit Ray remains as relevant today, almost five decades after its release, as it was back in the 60s. Nayak is not an easy movie to watch. Unlike most other Ray films which require patience, Nayak requires composure. There are scenes of such enormous power in Nayak that a faint-hearted will get jitters while watching it.
Deliberating on its title- Nayak- which means ‘star’ is equally intriguing. The star system of the film industry slowly came to be theorized in the 1980’s.  Here one needs to understand the difference between a star and the personal life of the star. The shift from the reel to real was given a very subtle touch in Ray’s films. A star is like Sri Krishna, attracting numerous women through fandom and sexual attractiveness. But a non-star is just a layman with his own deep inheritance of sorrows, troubles, and losses. At times, it almost feels like the real man tries to lose himself in the garb of the arrogance and stardom of his star image.

`Nayak` has now been written into a book by Mr. Bhaskar Chattopadhyay. It is available at Oxford Bookstore Kolkata that was released last day.