Karunanidhi, the Kalaignar – F’day Spl. article by Naveen

He may be a politician, five-time chief minister, leader of masses. But writing is something which is always very close to the heart of M Karunanidhi, who turned 94 recently and also celebrated his diamond jubilee year in the state Assembly.

A journalist, he is a celebrated playwright and screenwriter in Tamil cinema. And it was because of this reason he is called Kalaignar. With his birthday celebrations concluding recently, takes a look at some of his popular works in cinema.


‘Parasakthi’ was a turning point in Tamil cinema, as it espoused the ideologies of the Dravidian movement and also introduced two prominent actors of Tamil filmdom, Sivaji Ganesan and S S Rajendran.

The movie was initially banned but was eventually released in 1952. It was a huge box office hit, but its release was marred with controversies.

The film was critically acclaimed, with praise directed towards its dialogues and the actors’ performances in particular. The film also become a commercial success, and had a theatrical run of over 175 days. ‘Parasakthi’ acquired cult status in Tamil cinema and became a trendsetter for dialogues and acting for later Tamil films.


‘Manthiri Kumari’ was the film version of a play written by Karunanidhi and based an incident that occurs in the Tamil epic poem Kundalakesi.

The film directed by Ellis R Dungan has M G Ramachandran and M N Nambiar in key roles. The title of the film is on the character of Amudhvalli, which was played by Madhuri Devi.

Singer T M Soundararajan sang for very first time for Ramachandran in this film.


Who can forget the epic dialogue ‘Poruthathu podhum, pongi ezhu?’ Karunanidhi’s ‘Manohara’ starring Sivaji Ganesan, S S Rajendran, P Kannamba, T R Rajakumari and Girija in the lead roles, carried this line.

The film was based on a play of same name by Pammal Sambandha Mudaliar and was directed by L V Prasad. It was dubbed into Telugu as ‘Manohara’ and Hindi as ‘Manohar’ and released on 3 June 1954 simultaneously.

The film became cult classic due to the performances of Sivaji and Kannamba and dialogues by Karunanidhi. Ananda Vikatan wrote “Manohara is an example if there is a good script combined with lively dialogues and powerful acting, the public will appreciate and love such films”.


‘Poompuhar’ is an epic film directed by P Neelakantan based on one of the five great epics of Tamil Literature Silapadhigaaram in 1964. The film had script by Karunanidhi.

This is the second movie produced based on Silapadhigaaram epic after the first movie ‘Kannagi’ in 1942. S S Rajendran, C R Vijayakumari, Rajasree and K B Sundarambal played the lead roles.

Music was composed by R Sudharsanam while the lyrics were penned by Udumalai Narayana Kavi, Mayavanathan, Alangudi Somu, Karunanidhi and Radha Manikam.


It is one of the recent films of Karunanidhi as writer. Directed by Suresh Krishna as his 50th film, the movie is based on the Russian novel, The Mother, by Maxim Gorky.

Produced by S Martin, the film had Pa Vijay, Meera Jasmine, Remya Nambeesan and others in key roles. Music was by Vidyasagar. The film hit the screens on 14 January 2011.

By Naveen