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M Karunanidhi in a file photo.

(Photo: PTI)

Karunanidhi’s Life in Pictures: Remembering Tamil Nadu’s Kalaignar

DMK Supremo Muthuvel Karunanidhi died at the age of 94, after a prolonged illness, on 7 August, 2018.

4 min read

The demise of DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) chief M Karunanidhi on Tuesday, 7 August has not only left a void in Indian politics, but also in the lives of many people of the country.

A renowned screenwriter and tremendous politician, Karunanidhi was known across generations.

The 94-year-old DMK chief breathed his last at Chennai’s Kauvery Hospital at 6:10 pm on 7 August, 2018.


Born on 3 June, 1924 in Thirukkuvalai, Karunanidhi began his career as a screenwriter and later became the president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 1969.

As his journey transitioned from screenwriting to politics, he earned the tittle ‘Kalaignar’, a term that literally translates to ‘artist’.

A sharp orator and a celebrated writer, he embodied the Dravidian politics, which propagated Dravidian ideologies like self-respect and the abolition of untouchability.

Many stars from the Tamil film industry have taken to politics. Kamal Haasan launched his own political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, earlier this year. Rajnikanth too expressed his interest in joining politics in late 2017.

Karunanidhi joined politics at the age of 14.

After the demise of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and mentor, CN Annadurai, Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister in 1969. He was 45 years old at the time.

He would go on to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu five times. His last tenure as Chief Minister was from 2006 to 2011.

In his career, Karunanidhi wrote scripts for roughly 40 movies. ‘Rajakumari’, released in 1947 was the first film he wrote, while his last script titled ‘Illaingan’ came out in 2010.

Here in the photo, Karunanidhi is handing out the prestigious Kalaimamani award

His third son and working president of DMK, M K Stalin followed in his father’s footsteps and began a political career at the young age of 14. After a short stint in the film industry, he became a full-time member of DMK in the early nineties. He also became the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 2009.

He took over as the president of the party in 2017 after Karunanidhi’s health continued deteriorating.

The tussle between Indira Gandhi and Karunanidhi that lingered for almost two decades, came to an end in 2004 after Sonia Gandhi reached out to the DMK to join the UPA alliance. The party harmoniously stayed together for over a decade until 2013, when the DMK broke away from its alliance with the UPA.

PM Modi who has met Karunanidhi on multiple occasions, was one of the first to express his condolence after the DMK supremo’s death, via Twitter on Tuesday, 7 August.

He wrote, “I have had the opportunity of interacting with Karunanidhi Ji on several occasions. His understanding of policy and emphasis on social welfare stood out. Firmly committed to democratic ideals, his strong opposition to the Emergency will always be remembered.”

At the age of 94, Karunandhi remained a crucial figure in the DMK, even as his health crumbled.

Today, Karunanidhi is regarded as one of the most influential Indian politicians and a celebrated figure of the Tamil film industry. During the last few weeks of illness, leaders of various parties prayed for his health and personally came to visit him in Kauvery Hospital.

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