Muthuvel Karunanidhi, former five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu died on August 7, 2018, at the age of 94.
As the nation mourns the death of ‘Kaliagnar’, as hailed by his followers, here are some fascinating facts about him.
To remember the legacy of the man who entered the world of politics at the age of 14, spoke out against caste and class differences, and dominated the Tamil film industry, even while remaining in the hot seat of Chief Minister, here are a few lesser known facts about the state’s ‘Kailagnar’.
Joined Politics as a 14-Yr-Old
Karunanidhi started his political career at the tender age of 14, when he participated in anti-Hindi agitations. One of the forerunners of the Dravidian movement, he soon formed the Tamil Manavar Mandram, which was the first Dravidian student organisation, reports Catch News.
The party’s ideology challenged elitism, religious dogma, and caste orthodoxies in south India, BBC reports.
He also opposed Brahmin supremacy and challenged a move by the federal government to impose Hindi as the official communication language in South India.
Dropped Out of School to Write Scripts
Karunanidhi had failed his Class 10 exams. Following this, he moved to Coimbatore, where he made ends meet by writing scripts for professional theatre groups, states The Caravan.
Meanwhile, his budding talent as an orator and polemicist had captured the attention of Periyar and Annadurai, who then appointed him the editor of their Dravidar Kazhagam party magazine, Kudiyarasu, and also to address public gathering, all the while allowing him to continue his part-time work in theatre.
Sympathized With the LTTE
Karunanidhi was said to be a sympathizer to the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants in neighbouring Sri Lanka, which eventually earned him a lot of criticism from Indian political parties, and cost him his position as chief minister when the then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was assassinated in a suicide bomb attack planned by the group, BBC reports.
The former Chief Minister had allegedly called LTTE chief Prabhakaran “a very good friend” in an interview with NDTV, Catch News states, adding that the Jain Commission , which was investigating Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, had indicted him of having “abetted the Tamil Tigers”.
His Film ‘Parasakhti’ Was Banned
In 1952, Karunanidhi wrote the screenplay and dialogues for a film called Parasakthi, an instant hit which centred on a Tamil family of migrants from then-Burma to Tamil Nadu, through which it harshly critiqued the existing caste structure that led to the family facing discrimination in society, BBC reports.
Considering its controversial message, the film was soon banned across the state.
Tamil Nadu’s ‘Kailagnar’- a name given to him fondly by the people, Karunanidhi wrote more than 30 movie scripts, novellas, poems and historical novels.
As the state mourns his loss, he leaves behind a rich cultural legacy in the realms of both film and politics- for which he will be celebrated, always.
INTERESTING TRIVIA ON M KARUNANIDHI
1. Inspired by speaker Azhagirisamy, considered the pillar of justice party, Karunanidhi became an activist at the age of 14. Later, he founded an organisation called Tamil Nadu Tamil Manavar Mandram, which was the first student wing of the Dravidian Movement.
2. Karunanidhi failed in his 10th standard and moved to Coimbatore, where he made a living by writing scrpits for professional theatre groups.
3. His skills as an orator and polemicist captured the attention of Periyar and Annadurai and was appointed the editor of their Dravidar Kazhagam party magazine, Kudiyarasu, while allowing him to continue working part-time in theatre.
4. Karunanidhi helped Annadurai form DMK in 1949. He also served as its first treasurer. By early 1950s, he graduated from theater to cinemas and his scripts produced a few blockbusters, most famous of all is ‘Prasakthi.’
5. M. Karunanidhi was popularly known as ‘Kalaignar'(artist), for his less contributions to Tamil literature through his poems, letters, screenplays, novels, biographies, historical novels, stage-plays, dialogues and movies. He has also contributed to the Tamil literature through art and architecture, he constructed a 133-foot high statue of Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil poet and philosopher, at Kanyakumari.
6. He married Dayaluammal after the death of Padmavati, his first wife. Later, he married Rajathiammal and had a daughter Kanimozhi who is now Rajya Sabha MP. His son from first wife, M.K. Muthu is actor, singer and a member of AIADMK. MK Azhagiri and MK Stalin are his sons from his second marriage. Azhagiri is now a Cabinet Minister and Stalin is serving as working president of DMK.
7. He founded Murosoli at the age of 14 which grew into DMK’s official newspaper. His family also owns Sun TV group, one of Tamil Nadu’s biggest media organisation.
8. He has been elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for a recorded number of 12 times as an MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly).
9.He wrote the screenplay for Ellis Roderick Dungan’s last film. Ellis Dungan is the American film director who is credited for revolutionizing Tamil cinema. His last film was Manthiri Kumari.
10. Karunanidhi became the oldest serving Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu when he assumed office as Chief Minister in 2006.