Before he embraced the politician’s avatar, Karunanidhi was a successful screenwriter.
Fuelled by social causes, his rousing scripts were not only political in nature but also appealed to the masses. However, the magic he created wasn’t restricted to Tamil alone. Not many know that he was also associated with the Telugu film Ammayi Mogudu Mamaku Yamudu, a movie that saw Krishna in the lead. The film was a remake of the 1978 Tamil movie Vandikkaran Magan that had Jaya Shankar and Jaya Chitra playing the lead roles. The 1980 Telugu film was produced by Karunanidhi’s nephew Murasoli Selvam and went on to be a commercial success.
The ace screenwriter crafted the dialogues for the Tamil film and allowed his screenplay to be used for the Telugu one.
Adiseshagiri Rao, producer and brother of Krishna, reminisces those days and says, “Karunanidhi knew Telugu and spoke the language well. Whenever we met, he would speak in Telugu to us. And when he’d come for Telugu film functions, he would speak in both Telugu and Tamil.” Karunanidhi’s family always had close ties with the film industry. Ammayi Mogudu Mamaku Yamudu was also co-produced by his son-in-law Selvam and directed by another nephew Amrutham. “They would produce many Tamil and Telugu films,” he adds.
In the course of his creative career, Karunanidhi turned a lot of heads with the scripts he would write for Sivaji Ganesan and M.G. Ramachandran. “He would write dialogues for both the actors. While Sivaji Ganesan’s dialogues were loud, M.G. Ramachandran’s dialogues were subtle. Some of his films such as Parasakti and Veerapandya Kattab-hrama were released in Telugu too and became popular here,” says Adiseshagiri Rao.
Considering his knowledge of Telugu, it’s natural to wonder why Karunanidhi didn’t write scripts for more Telugu films. That’s because this son of the Dravidian movement dearly held onto his ideologies.
“Our Telugu is mixed with Sanskrit words and Karunanidhi was against using Sanskrit. He preferred the original Telugu, which people may not understand. So he never wrote Telugu dialogues or songs,” Adiseshagiri Rao explains.
That’s not all. Even when he was in Chennai, he would attend many Telugu film functions. Prem Nagar, which was made in Telugu and Tamil, was a turning point for producer D. Rama Naidu’s career. For the 100th-day function of the film, it was Karunanidhi who gave mementos to the artistes and technicians. Dasari Narayana Rao too had invited Karunanidhi as the chief guest for 100th day celebrations of his film Needa.
“I met him many times while representing the Telugu film industry,” Adiseshagiri Rao concludes.