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The Coimbatore connection

The house on Subramanian Pillai Street in Coimbatore where M. Karunanidhi lived between 1945 and 1947 while working as scriptwriter for Jupiter Pictures.

The trio of Kalaignar, MGR, and Nedunchezhian met in the city
Karunanidhi was all of 21 when as an aspiring film scriptwriter he arrived in Coimbatore at the invitation of his brother-in-law Chidambaram S. Jayaraman, who worked in Central Studio in 1945. During the next two years, he would get acquainted with M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), then a struggling actor, and Nedunchezhian, one of the five founding leaders of the DMK, who was working as a warden at a hostel run by industrialist G.D. Naidu. The three would go on to share a successful political career as part of the DMK before parting ways much later.

Karunanidhi lived in a house on Subramanian Pillai Street which he took on a monthly rent of ₹10 from I.S. Annasamy, a clerk in a spinning mill. Annasamy’s son A. Mani says Karunanidhi brought his first wife Padmavathy and lived here before moving to Salem to work for Modern Theatres in late 1947 or early 1948.

His job was to work on a script for Jupiter Pictures A.S.A.Samy, who functioned out of Central Studio that was two kilometres from the house. The script was made into a movie — Rajakumari — his first in which MGR acted in the lead for the first time.

Those days, Karunanidhi was a man of limited resources and there were occasions when he could not pay the rent on time, Mr. Mani recollects his father telling him. “The house was small, like a sparrow’s nest, but there was happiness,” Karunanidhi records in his autobiography.

No delays

M.S. Kasi, son of Somasundaram, who was a co-owner of Jupiter Pictures, reminisces, “Karunanidhi wrote the dialogues for (Sivaji Ganesan starrer) Manohara when he was in prison and we would send someone to collect the scripts. Though he was in prison, there were no delays. For other movies too sometimes he would come to the studio or stay outside and write the scripts. He always had very good relationship with all those in the studio. He used to address well-attended Dravidar Kazhagam meetings in Kuniamuthur, Theppakulam and other places,” recalls ex-MP Mu. Ramanathan. “After the meetings, DK members and I would follow Karunanidhi’s horse cart on bicycles because we feared that he could be attacked,” he says.

It was while in Coimbatore that Karunanidhi lost his father and his first son Mu Ka Muthu was born.

Karunanidhi used to sit at the village centre, Singara Medai, and on many nights, he listened to ‘Annamar stories’, a part of the Kongu folklore. He called on Annasamy’s family upon the latter’s death in 1991.

Today, the house remains and retains its old charm but more like the DMK that Karunanidhi formed. Annasamy’s sons have partitioned it and Mani’s brother, who has joined the AIADMK, lives in the house.
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