Things you might have not known about Tamil Nadu’s beloved ‘Kalaignar’

Known as Kalaignar Karunanidhi, the 94-year-old statesman had been a fixture of Tamil Nadu politics for decades.

M Karunanidhi was the long-standing leader and ten-time president of the Dravida Munneta Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu. He is also credited for opening Tamil Nadu’s doors to IT and fighting for social justice.

Before entering politics, Karunanidhi worked in the Tamil film industry, establishing himself as one of industry’s leading screenwriters. He also made innumerable contributions to Tamil literature, having written stories, plays, novels and even a multiple-volume memoir titled ‘Nenjukku Neethi’.

Here are some lesser-known facts about the 5-time CM of Tamil Nadu

  • Karunanidhi’s original name was Dakshinamoorthy, and was born in Thirukuvalai, Tiruvarur district in the year 1924.
  • Inspired by speaker Azhagirisamy, considered the pillar of justice party, he started his political career at the age of 14 by participating in anti-Hindi agitations. Few years later, Karunanidhi formed the Tamil Nadu Tamil Manavar Mandram, which was the first Dravidian student organisation.
  • Few years further down the line he won win his first election, entering the legislative Assembly in 1957.
  • Parasakthi the movie in which Sivaji Ganesan made his debut was written by Karunanidhi. The film was noted for its dialogues and it features the famous ‘Odinen Odinen’ dialogue. It was a film that acquired cult status in Tamil cinema.
  • M Karunanidhi was popularly known as ‘Kalaignar'(artist), for his contributions to Tamil literature through poems, letters, screenplays, novels, biographies, historical novels, stage-plays, dialogues and movies. He constructed a 133-foot high statue of Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil poet and philosopher, at Kanyakumari during his reign as the chief minister in January 2000. The project was conceived by him in December 1975.
  • He wrote the screenplay for Ellis Roderick Dungan’s last film. Ellis Dungan is the American film director who is credited for revolutionising Tamil cinema. His last film was Manthiri Kumari.
  • His focus on social evils, be it untouchability, widow remarriage, the abolishing of the zamindari system, and religious hypocrisy, positioned Karunanidhi as a social reformer. Moreover, his courage to take an anti-position, be it to Hindi (in the language agitation of the 1960s), or to Indira Gandhi’s Emergency a decade later, established Karunanidhi as a leader who could not be ignored.
  • Karunanidhi holds the record of not losing a single election since then.
  • In 2006, when he assumed office as chief minister of Tamil Nadu, he became the oldest serving CM Tamil Nadu ever had.
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