The Kalaignar scripted 75 films that resonated with common folk

The veteran DMK leader had once in an interview said that he used to promote rationalism and equality in his movies

M Karunanidhi (photo: Getty Images)
M Karunanidhi (photo: Getty Images)


Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the five-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the icon of the Dravidian movement was one of the most respected scriptwriters in the Tamil film industry.

This was mainly due to the real-life situations in the scripts he has written, most directly resonating with the ordeals faced by ordinary workers and labourers who were always close to his heart.

The veteran DMK leader had once in an interview said that he used to promote rationalism and equality in his movies and he shunned larger-than-life images of his characters.

He had said that his characters were generally people from humble backgrounds and lived tough lives. The stories written by Kalaignar generally had an impact on ordinary men and women and they loved Karunanidhi as a messiah to release them from their worries and difficulties.

M. Karunanidhi who earned the sobriquet, 'Kalaignar' or artist through his writing, had penned scripts for 75 movies with the MGR's Rajakumari being his first.

Incidentally the veteran leader's movie Parasakthi debuted another superstar of the Tamil film industry, Sivaji Ganesan.

Karunanidhi's last movie for which he wrote the script was Ponnar Shankar in 2011. After Rajakumari, Karunanidhi wrote the script for the movie, Abhimanyu (1948) followed by Marudhanattu Ilavarasi (1950). In both movies, MGR was the hero.

Most of his movies portrayed strong characters who fought against inequality, intolerance and misogyny and there was a strong sense of socialism and rationalism. The scripts also portrayed poverty at the lower rung of Tamil society.

He had once remarked that he had followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Dravidian stalwart and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, C.N. Annadurai who was also a well-received and respected scriptwriter in the Tamil movie industry.

The film Naam, the script of which was written by Kalaignar, dealt with the plight of the working class. The former CM in another interview had said that the film showed his deep-rooted passion for the communist movement and the ideal of equality.

While his movie, Thai Illa Pillai dealt with caste, another movie, Kanchi Thalaivan dealt with the ideals of C.N. Annadurai.

His life revolved around the movie industry and both his major rivals in Tamil Nadu politics, MG Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa, were also from the film industry.

When MGR was at his peak, Karunanidhi tried to bring in his elder son, M.K. Muthu into the film industry as a counter to MGR but he was not successful. MGR had become highly popular and was loved and respected in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

Interestingly Kalaignar also staged plays including, Ore Ratham, Palainappan, Manimagudam, Naane Arivali and Udhayasooryan. These plays were staged across the state and were mainly on equality and the downtrodden.

These plays and scripts changed the course of politics in Tamil Nadu and the Dravidian ideology was rooted in the minds of the people through the scripts of Kalaignar Karunanidhi.

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