‘Malgudi Days’, the 1987 TV-series based on the stories of illustrious Indian novelist R.K. Narayan, is considered to be one of the finest television shows in India. Those who have seen the series still appreciate the mural-like portrayal of the fictional town of Malgudi.
But do you remember the actor who played the principal character of Swami?
His name is Manjunath Nayaker, and he played the part to such perfection that R.K. Narayan himself said that he was “exactly how I had imagined Swami to be”.
But in spite of acting in 68 feature films in Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, English and Kashmiri by age 19, Manjunath Nayaker left the world of films to pursue the life of an ordinary man.
He also played a young Vijay Deenanath Chauhan in 1990’s ‘Agneepath’.
After doing his BA in English and MA in Sociology from the University of Mysore and Bangalore University, Nayaker went on to become a full-time PR professional.
His Linkedin profile tells us that he now works as a Principal Consultant at VIC Ltd in Bangalore, and has acquired years of corporate professional experience.
In a conversation with Quint, Nayaker said that at the time of playing Swami, he “couldn’t appreciate the quality writing of Mr Narayan”, adding that it was only later in his life he realised the genius of the prolific writer.
He confesses, though, that he has not yet read ‘Swami and Friends’ for the fear that the writing of Narayan might make him question his own performance.
“I have a very special copy of it in my head and I want to leave it at that. Because I am sure if I read it, I’ll feel that I have not done justice to it, so I am selfishly not reading it.”
It is good to know that someone in this country has been able to overcome the lure of the arc lights and charted a different, equally successful course of life for himself. But as a fan of his performance as the unforgettable Swami, we miss him.