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Yaaru pa Karunanidhi?

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We all know Karunanidhi is a man of political and literary prowess. He has been the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu 5 times, he has never lost an election. He has written a lot of poems, films, and books. To stand out in the political scenario, one needs a unique voice and vision, and Karunanidhi definitely had a clear cut vision of what he wanted Tamil Nadu to be. He was one of the forefathers of the Dravidian Self-respect movement, that aimed at creating a society where economically backward castes have equal human rights and self-respect.

Let us look at the film Parasakthi, that was written by him, and understand why Karunanidhi is a legend. From the first scene of the film till the very end, this is Karunanidhi’s film. Through this film, he not only managed to carve a niche for himself as a writer, but also managed to place his political ideologies in a way that doesn’t bore the audience.

There is a quote - Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Karunanidhi proves that his writing is truly art. While fighting for the rights of the economically backward people in the society, he also slyly takes a dig at the ones sitting on top of the hierarchy. He begins his work while naming the characters itself. The female lead is named Kalyani, a name that is considered auspicious. However, her life only goes from good to bad to worse, as her husband and father dies, she attempts suicide and almost kills her child. What a brilliant way to showcase a contradiction. Earlier, Kalyani and her husband decide to name their child Panneerselvam, if it’s a boy, or Nagamma if it is a girl. Panneerselvam was the leader of the Justice Party and Nagamma was the wife of Periyar, by whom, a lot of Karunanidhi’s ideas were influenced.

The dialogues, even when played today, hold relevance. It is unbelievable that it has been more than 60 years since this film released. It must be noted that, like the film, Karunanidhi has also been relevant in Indian politics for more than 60 years. Coincidence? We don’t think so. The man has been way ahead of his time, like the film. All of a sudden, Parasakthi looks like a perfect metaphor for Karunanidhi’s political career.

Another startling feature about Karunanidhi’s writing in Parasakthi is the way he understood the audience’s pulse. The film had a theatrical run of 175 days. In a few theatres, it ran for more than 40 weeks. Every five minutes, you get a dialogue that is strong, bold and makes a comment on the society. Oh wait, you also have dialogues in the climax court scene where the judge asks Sivaji Ganesan not to comment on the society. Kalaignar doesn’t leave any stone unturned. He speaks everything from Anti-Brahminism, Rationalism, Economics, to Religious politics by central political parties.

To give the millennials a perspective, this was such an important film that political parties asked candidates to memorise dialogues of this film in order become a political orator. The central parties started to feel the heat and asked for scenes to be cut, which was denied by the censor board. After this film, directors started giving more importance to the role of writing in a film and therefore, this was not just victory for Karunanidhi, but also for all the future writers in the industry. That is the legacy Parasakthi carries. To sum it all up in a single word, Parasakthi is ‘SUCCESS’ - For Sivaji Ganesan, the production house, Karunanidhi, DMK and Tamil Cinema as a whole. 

If you think the question in the title is unanswered, let me give it to you in Superstar Rajinikanth’s style - Parasakthi hero da!

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