In Tamil Film Industry

Karunanidhi began his career as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry. Through his wit and oratorical skills he rapidly rose as a popular politician. He was famous for writing historical and social (reformist) stories which propagated the socialist and rationalist ideals of the Dravidian movement to which he belonged. He first began using Tamil cinema to propagate his political ideas through the movie Parasakthi. Parasakthi was 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. It was a huge box office hit. Two other movies written by Karunanidhi that contained such messages were Panam and Thangarathnam. These movies contained themes such as widow remarriage, abolition of untouchability, self-respect marriages, abolition of zamindari and abolition of religious hypocrisy. As his movies and plays with strong social messages became popular, they suffered from increased censorship; two of his plays in the 1950s were banned.

Karunanidhi rose to fame as a scriptwriter for the Modern Theatres Studio in Salem about 350 kilometers from Madras or present day Chennai. T R Sundaram, the owner of Modern Theatres Studio at Yercaud foot hills, was instrumental in honing the talents of Karunanidhi, and M G Ramachandran. Even today, whenever Karunanidhi visits Salem, he takes a ride through Modern Theatres and goes up to the first hair pin bend on the Yercaud hill road to relive nostalgia.