1950-9 JUN 2008 VIHANG NAYAK

In Remembrance of Actor Vihang Nayak…

Pradeep Vijayakar

The death of Vihang Nayak, the multi-talented film /television/theatre actor and model (noted for his appearance with Aamir Khan in a wrist-watch ad) died in a car accident on Monday, 9th June 2008. His death comes as a double blow to the Pathare Prabhu community. The community has lost another pillar in Pramod Navalkar, who died last year. Nayak in fact had attended a meeting of the Pathare Prabhu Charities on Sunday, 8th June. It was for this reason that he could not leave for Baramati with the rest of the cast. Nayak was to do his first shoot in the film Master-Eke Master, which also features veteran Ashok Saraf.

Pramod Navalkar was editor of the community journal ‘Prabhu Prabhat’, while Nayak was the Editor of the other journal, ‘Prabhu Tarun’. In his last editorial in the May issue Nayak had sort of taken stock of his own life (a premonition?), satirising on the
few mistakes he had made. Like how, at his christening ceremony, he was
smiling when most babies cry! And this in spite of the famous docks explosion of 1944 having taken place a few minutes before that. The second mistake he wrote about was when he bungled his lines in a school play, giving four different answers when he had to give the same one to all the four questions. In spite of his director being annoyed, the judges liked him and gave him the prize!

One mistake that Nayak however didn’t mention was one that one of his drama colleagues mentioned at his funeral–not taking to Acting full time as Nana Patekar had done. The two had appeared in a Vijay Tendulkar play,`Pahije Jatiche” that became a hit. Patekar continued to act in plays and later in films while Nayak, who had the main role, continued to flit between his job as a automobile engineer and the stage. He had a hand in Telco’s first four-stroke engine and later redesigned the Italian two-wheeler Lambretta. It was while working for Telco that he won his first prize in an inter-company competition and later won a directorial prize when urged to direct a play by Tatya Amonkar.

Nana Patekar said: “If Vihang had taken to the stage professionally, he would have surpassed me. I am proud he played his first innings with me.” Nayak’s most famous role was in the play `Bottoms Up’. Bharat Dabholkar says: “Vihang has that innocence that would make any role of his a hit.” Even if one gave him naughty or menacing lines he would carry them off so well that you loved it. He got into `Bottoms Up’ by default because Harish Patel, the original actor had to leave for a TV serial. Harish recommended Vihang as his Guru . Vihang agreed on the condition that he was not be discarded when Harish came back. The play did 88 shows in a row—a record. Dabholkar , Vijoo Khote , another star of ‘Bottoms Up’ and
Nayak were a threesome often found together. Said Khote who was waiting
for Nayak at Baramati on Monday morning: “Vihang was special, our
relationship went beyond our work. He exuded charm throughout.”

Actor Kishore Pradhan who is as humorous a person as Nayak was said: “He was
awesome.” Vinay Apte, another stage veteran said: “We worked together
since 1973. If he had stuck to the stage he would have become an all-time
great. But those days all of us had to do our jobs, mostly working in
banks. The stage could not support us. Vihang had his engineering to do
with API.” Sayaji Shinde, another stage star said: “I grew up under
his tutelage at the Girgaum’s Sahitya Sangh. Vihang and Laxmikant Berde
were two of a kind.”A schoomate at the funeral, Anil Save recalled
how Nayak and he honed their acting skills during the Aryan High School’s
Krishna birth festivities week. Says Save: “He was good from those days.”

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