Muthuvel Karunanidhi (3 June 1924 – 7 August 2018) was an Indian writer and politician who served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for five terms and twenty years between 1969 and 2011.
Before entering politics he worked in the Tamil film industry as a screenwriter. He has also made contributions to Tamil literature, having written stories, plays, novels, and a multiple-volume memoir. He was popularly referred to as Kalaignar in Tamil Nadu by his supporters.
Karunanidhi was more interested in drama, poetry, and literature during his school days.
Karunanidhi married three times to late Padmavathy, Dayalu Ammal, and Rajathiammal. He has four sons— M K Muthu, M K Alagiri, M K Stalin, and M K Tamilarasu and two daughters— Selvi and Kanimozhi.
Karunanidhi began his career as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry. His first movie as screenwriter was Rajakumari produced by Coimbatore based Jupiter Pictures directed by A. S. A. Sami starring M. G. Ramachandran.
Karunanidhi was inclined towards Periyar E.V. Ramasamy’s atheism and rationalism joined his self-respect movement as a teenager. He was inspired by the speeches of Alagirisamy of the Justice Party.
An 18-year-old Karunanidhi started publishing handwritten notices called Murasoli, under the pen name Cheran, while World War II was underway
M. G. Ramachandran and Karunanidhi were good friends but later turned rivals after the former founded AIADMK party.
His most notable movie was Parasakthi, 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 first major protest that aided Karunanidhi in gaining ground in Tamil politics was his involvement in the Kallakudi agitation in Kallakudi. Original name of this industrial town was Kallakudi and it was changed to Dalmiapuram after a cement mogul who built a cement plant there. DMK wanted to change the name back to Kallakudi. In the protest, Karunanidhi and his companions erased the name Dalmiapuram from the railway station and lay down on the tracks blocking the course of trains. Two people died in the protest and Karunanidhi was arrested.
At the age of 33, Karunanidhi entered the Tamil Nadu assembly by winning the Kulithalai seat in the 1957 election. He became the DMK treasurer in 1961
When Annadurai expired in 1969, Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the first leader of DMK
Political pundits say that the period between 1970-75 in Tamil Nadu, with Karunanidhi as the chief minister, could be called “the golden period, for it was he who emphasised on state autonomy which went on to become a pertinent point for his party and also resulted in other chief ministers of neighbouring states taking up federalism.
The late 1980s saw Karunanidhi emerge as a successful strategist in coalition politics when he played a substantial role in the formation of National Front under V.P. Singh, after breaking ties with Congress in 1983 over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
He delivered the special address on the inaugural day of 3rd World Tamil Conference held in Paris in 1970, and also on the inaugural day of 6th World Tamil Conference held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 1987.
He penned the song “Semmozhiyaana Tamizh Mozhiyaam”, the official theme song for the World Classical Tamil Conference 2010, that was set to tune by A. R. Rahman.
At Kanyakumari, Karunanidhi constructed a 133-foot-high statue of Thiruvalluvar in honor of the scholar.
His books of prose and poetry number more than 100.