This is the review of the Hindi movie Nayak, starring Anil Kapoor, that released in 2001. For the Ram Charan - V V Vinayak movie that released in 2013, click here.
It's something that could happen to you. You'd just need:
a. A corrupt CM who's also impulsive enough to offer a fiery journo the post of CM for a day without realizing that in that one day in power that guy can expose all his crooked activities,
b. The constitution to have enough provisions for a deal like that,
c. The people and the opposition to be docile enough to accept as CM someone who can't claim any form of official representation of the people's interests, and
d. To be a superhero yourself, capable of bashing up several well-built goons all alone (and this is key).
To be fair, Shankar did have fine intentions. He wanted to show the rot in the political system and the plague that that is in our everyday lives. Only, this one comes with all the problems that most Indian cinema has - a script that panders to the box-office instead of staying credible, middle of the road fight dramas that appear as probable as your finding yourself running around semi-naked in the streets of Koti and flamboyant and sometimes gaudy song and dance sequences. And the very credible feeling that you're left with is a pity for what might have been.
Sivaji (Anil Kapoor) is the chief news reporter for a TV channel and is assigned to interview the Chief Minister Chavan (Amrish Puri). As he starts digging up all the illegal activities of the government in the t??te-??‚Â -t??te, Chavan squirms, and to justify the behavior of the government, challenges Sivaji to don the mantle of CM for just a day and see for himself how much pressure a CM faces each day.
So Sivaji becomes the CM for a day, and in just that one day manages to work wonders. Included in these wonders are chasing and beating up a bunch of goons in broad daylight, issuing a few thousand suspensions to various government officials against whom any bad reports exist (you're left wondering who'd be left to work in the government offices after that, but that's the lesser of the cribs), and as a final act arrests the erstwhile CM, thus gaining Chavan's eternal enmity.
You've got to give it to Shankar that this part indeed is punchy despite some oddities. You are in the firm grip of the film, and understand why Mudhalvan, the original Tamil version, and Oke Okkadu, the Telugu dub, were such hits. But the film loses it after this through more problems than you can count.
The one-day completed, Sivaji thinks that the whole issue is over and plans to get back to a normal life by getting married to his ladylove Manjari (Rani Mukherjee, in a glamdoll role). But of course, Chavan has several grievances to nurse, and Sivaji and his parents are the target of his vicious desire for vendetta.
But Sivaji is superman, and it'll take more than a few bunches of goons to do him in. And at the insistence of Bansal (Paresh Rawal), a civil servant, Sivaji proclaims his candidature for the forthcoming elections, and wins them hands down. And Chavan decides to get Sivaji killed by giving supari. How Sivaji disposes of Chavan in a very crafty manner is certainly worth a watch (and it proves again that the system does corrupt).
Shankar could've done a much better job of the remake - instead of improving on the original, he just puts in too much of the clich??‚Â©s, in obvious attempts to incorporate all the commercial elements. There are some stunning visuals in the movie, though; the photography is fantastic. The songs are in general a sight for sore eyes - all the money put into them pays off on the whole, though sometimes you have this feeling that you've seen it all in some Telugu films of yore. There is also an interesting usage of cartoons to express ideas in a funny manner.
Anil Kapoor is excellent, and is the biggest selling point. Rani Mukherjee helps in the song and dance sequences and thus dutifully fulfills her responsibilities. But standing apart is Paresh Rawal. The guy has a unique sense of timing, and the one-liners that he delivers in a rather indifferent manner are sidesplitting. All other performances are good, except the rather crass humor of Johnny Lever.
The music by A R Rehman is just adequate, but there are a couple of songs that allow you a peek at the hidden part of the iceberg that his talent is in this film. Mention should be made of the haunting tune of Chalo Chale Sajana, but the let down is in the form of some inane lyrics.
Nayak gives you the impression of a film that could have been. Your decision to
watch it will depend on what the other options in town are.