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Karunanidhi lent firepower to MGR, Sivaji, SSR

Posted August 9th, 2018, 10:08 AM IST

Karunanidhi lent firepower to MGR, Sivaji, SSR

n one hundred years of Tamil Cinema, Kalaignar was involved in 70. Cinema was used as a powerful tool by politicians and the culture started with Congress party making use of the then top actors like KB Sundarambal and Nagaiya. Later, Dravidian leaders like Annaduari and Karunanidhi who understood the potential of cinema and started utilising film stars for their party propaganda purposes.

Karunanidhi started his screenplay and dialogue writing with the film Rajakumari in 1947. He made a mark in various departments of Tamil cinema in story, screenplay, dialogues, lyrics and even produced few films with his last film being Ponnar Shankar in 2011.

Not many are aware that his original name was Dakshinamoorthy. The sobriquet ‘Kalaignar’ was given to Karunanidhi by the late iconic actor M. R. Radha after watching the play Thooku Medai written by the former.

Interestingly, Kalaignar was instrumental in identifying the two greatest icons of Tamil cinema — MG Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan — who ruled Tamil cinema like titans from the 1950s up to 1970s. It was Karuna’s hard-hitting sharp dialogues and scripts with social themes which propelled MGR’s political career.

MK’s debut as screenwriter in Rajakumari in 1947 saw also the introduction of MGR as the lead hero, although the latter had had a few insignificant films to his credit earlier. Thus started the real journey of MGR in Tamil cinema and there was no looking back. And it was Karuna’s fiery writing as well as lyrics, which also helped MGR to project himself as the ‘saviour of the masses’ from reel life to real life.

Yet another star — Sivaji Ganesan — was born when Karunanidhi wrote the script for Parasakthi, which attained cult status in Tamil cinema. With his immensely powerful, rationalist dialogues, which were delivered formidably by Sivaji, Karunanidhi owned the film.

Karunanidhi wrote the screenplay for eight films including Manohara and Parasakthi for Sivaji and nine films including Malaikallan, Maruthanaattu Ilavarasi, Kanchi Thalaivan, Pudhumaipitthan and Mandhirikumari for MGR. Industry veterans say MGR used to address MK as ‘Aandavare’ in his earlier days.

MK was also instrumental in the career of S.S. Rajendran taking off after he was introduced as a hero in the film Ammaiappan. His prodigious writing skills came out in as many as 77 films. His penchant for writing continued with several movies like Poompuhar, Thirumbipaar, Kuravanji, Iruvar Ullam, Poo Maalai, Avan Pitthana, Ore Rattham etc.

Besides penning the script and dialogues, Karunanidhi also entered into film production. He produced 29 films in his banners named Meghala Pictures, Anjugan Pictures, Poompuhar Productions etc.

In 1988, his film Paasa Paravaigal, which featured Sivakumar, Radhikaa and Lakshmi, was talked about for its sharp dialogues in court scenes. He also wrote in his later years when he was in power in films like Pen Singam (2010), Ilaignan(2011) and Ponnar Shankar (2011). Till recently, he was penning script for a mega serial Ramanujar aired on Kalaignar TV.

His love for the performing arts was also reflected in his taking part in much prominent film launches, audio release functions and numerous award ceremonies. Despite his extremely busy schedule as a chief minister, Karunanidhi willingly spared time to watch Tamil films.

Having been a disciple of Periyar and taking on the latter’s legacy, it didn’t come as a surprise when Karunanidhi took time off and watched five times the feature film Periyar, which starred Sathyaraj and Khusbhu in the lead, and he was CM then.

With his phenomenal success in cinema and politics, Karunanidhi burnt the candle at both ends. That he did this for more than 70 years, still writing and mentoring during his later years, is a testament to his mental fortitude and work ethic.