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Kalaignar M Karunanidhi dies at 94: Revisit his career in films

Kalaignar M Karunanidhi, five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, died on Tuesday. The stalwart leader started off as a scriptwriter for films in 1947. Here is some of his most prominent work.

regional movies Updated: Aug 08, 2018 13:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Kalaignar M Karunanidhi,M Karunanidhi,Karunanidhi
Posters of two Karunanidhi films, Poompuhar and Parasakthi.

Kalaignar M Karunanidhi, five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu and a revered politician in the state, passed away on Tuesday.

The stalwart leader, who has left a gaping hole in regional politics, started off as a scriptwriter for films in 1947.

For him, cinema and politics were closely intertwined. His love for his language and politics are reflected in many of his writings, which brought him fame and recognition, much like other film star-turned-politicians, J Jayalalithaa, M G Ramachandran and others.

Karunanidhi wrote the screenplay for 77 films and the lyrics for may more songs.

He began writing at the age of 20 for Jupiter Pictures and was introduced as a screenplay writer with Rajakumari. This film was the first movie in which M G Ramachandran (MGR, his close friend and later bête-noire) was introduced as a hero.

Initially, the actor and the writer were friends and even became politicians together. They worked on a number of films together including, Abhimanyu (1948), Marudhanaattu Ilavarasi and Manthiri Kumari.

But a rift caused the actor to become Karunanidhi’s political rival later with the formation of Anaith India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

Parasakthi is today considered to be an iconic piece of art that expressed the political view of a writer and propelled him forward. At the same time, this film brought fame and fortune for the lead actor and debutante Sivaji Ganesan.

The script, written by Karunanidhi, is a work of study for filmmakers who aim to mix life and politics. The movie is a family drama, and the writer in Karunanidhi turned their triumphs and tribulations to express the angst against the staunch casteist practices that were practised than in the state.

Parasakthi was also about Dravidian politics, which initially faced trouble from the censor board and a certain section of the audience who took offence to way Brahmanism was criticised in the film. It did release in 1952 to become a box office hit.

Karunanidhi’s scripts touched upon issues like the abolition of untouchability, zamindari system, widow remarriage and more. Not just films, the politician also wrote plays and he became popular as a writer and moved up the ranks as a politician.

This meant that his works faced increased censorship and there was opposition to his plays as well. So much so that two of his plays were banned in the 1950s.

The veteran leader’s last screenplay was for Ponnar Shankar, which released in 2011.

Seven years later, he breathed his last

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First Published: Aug 07, 2018 21:10 IST