He turned director with his movie Prahaar: The Final Attack co-starring Madhuri Dixit. He has an honorary Captain's rank from Indian Army. He underwent training for his role as an Army officer in Prahaar and was thus awarded the rank. He joined the Territorial Army in the early 1990s. He also took up the sport of rifle shooting and qualified for the G.V. Mavlankar Shooting Championship.
Patekar has played many types of roles. He has played the occasional villain but been a hero in most of his films. He played a truant, gambling son in Krantiveer (1994), a wife beater in Agni Sakshi (1996), a deaf father to Manisha Koirala in Khamoshi: The Musical (1996) and a schizophrenic in Wajood (1998). In the movie Ab Tak Chhappan (2005) he plays a police officer who is a sharpshooter. He costarred with Amitabh Bachchan in Kohram, where he played an undercover Indian Army intelligence officer chasing Bachchan's incognito. Patekar has also done comic roles in Welcome (2007) in which he plays a powerful crime lord in Dubai who once desired to be an actor in films.
Nana Patekar starred in the MarathifilmDeool, released on 4 November 2011. He is going to be in Sangeeth Sivan's next film, which is a remake of the Telugu film Athadu (2005) and as the character Anjaneya Prasad (CBI officer), which was originally played by Prakash Raj.