Even before his elite and esteemed journey as a politician, Muthuvel Karunanidhi was a prolific screenwriter who penned 77 films. These films spoke wholesomely about social issues, status symbols, politics and government staging. Here are ten instances of when the revered veteran broke the mould, propelled his ideas and brought up important talents.
1. Started off as a stage play writer
The late Karunanidhi began his career as a playwright, and now has close to 75 stage plays to his credit.
2. Made his debut as a screenwriter before India’s independence
Karunanidhi made his film writing debut with Rajakumaari, which released on the 11th of April, 1947. The film was not only the first for the writer, but also the first film for MGR as a lead actor after 15 films in minute roles.
3. Paved the way for Sivaji Ganesan’s debut in Parasakthi
Parasakthi, the film in which Sivaji Ganesan made his debut, was also written by Karunanidhi. The film is extremely famous for its dialogues, especially the 6-minute-long court scene towards the end. Today, Parasakthi is looked at as a cult in Tamil cinema.
4. Scripted the perfect ‘mass hero’
Karunanidhi was the first writer to project the protagonists in his films as "do-gooders" to the society, for the lead men in his scripts possessed extreme amounts of goodwill, took care of their families, abolished negativity and mostly did not even touch alcohol. The formula is still alive in Tamil cinema, right from MGR to Rajinikanth to Vijay, Ajith and the likes.
5. Bravely addressed delicate topics
Karunanidhi’s scripts were so on-the-face, tackling various subjects such as untouchability, widow remarriage, zamindari system and much more. His work faced lots of criticisms with people taking offense easily. To add fuel to the fire, two of his plays were banned in the 1950s.
6. Wrote Udanpirappe, one of the lengthiest newsletter columns
The writer is also known for Udanpirappe, one of the longest standing newspaper columns that was published in the paper Murasoli.
7. Incorporated real life philosophies of CN Annadurai and Periyaar into his scripts
After following the values of his mentor Periyaar and maintaining a close bond with CN Annadurai, Karunanidhi etched the thoughts and teachings of these two important personalities into his works too.
8. Called on AR Rahman to compose a Tamil anthem
For the World Classical Tamil Conference in June 2010, Karunanidhi penned the song Semmozhiyaana Tamizh Mozhiyaam, which was composed by the Oscar winning composer AR Rahman with a plethora of singers from different backgrounds crooning a few lines each. But, Karunanidhi was adamant on bringing AR Rahman on board for this particular number, the music video of which was directed by Gautham Menon.9. Final few films as a screenwriter
Penn Singam, Ilaignan and Ponnar Shankar were Kalaignar’s final few films as a screenwriter. The latter in particular, was made on a huge scale with actor Prashanth playing dual roles.
10. Penned a TV series at the age of 90
Karunanidhi wrote a TV series titled Thenpandi Singam, which narrated the true stories of the Maruthu brothers. It was aired on Kalaignar TV, having 151 episodes to its credit.