Quo Vadis Karunanidhi?

Part 3

by Sachi Sri Kantha, May 28, 2016

In the recently concluded 2016 general election to the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, the DMK party leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi (b. 1924) lost his chance to topple Jayalalitha (the AIADMK leader), his bete noire for the past quarter century. He will reach 92 in June 3rd. When 2021 comes by, if ‘Mother Nature’ permits, he may reach 96! One never knows, what wishes Father Time keeps in store for him.

I wrote ‘Quo Vadis Karunanidhi’ – Part 1 in 2006. [http://tamilnation.co/forum/sachisrikantha/060619quovadis.htm]

Then, in 2012, wrote a sequel, ‘Quo Vadis Karunanidhi – Part 2’. [http://new.sangam.org/2012/06/Karunanidhi_2.php?uid=4747]

For Part 2, I included an apt song sung by comedian N.S. Krishnan (lyrics by poet Kannadasan) in the movie Panam [The Money]. That was the 2nd movie for Sivaji Ganesan, and the script writer for that movie was Karunanidhi himself.

Chidambaram S,. Jayaraman

Chidambaram S,. Jayaraman

Now, for Part 3, I continue this pattern with an apt song sung by Chidambaram S. Jayaraman (lyrics by Tanjai N. Ramaiah Das) for the movie Pudumai Pithan [Crazy Guy for Novelty]. This was an MGR starrer, and the script writer for this movie was none other than Karunanidhi himself! And the singer Jayaraman was a brother in law of Karunanidhi! Jayaraman’s sister Padmavathi was Karunanidhi’s first wife. This particular song also aptly fits Karunanidhi’s current plight. This song begins with the line, ‘Melam kotti, Thaali katti Methai pola vazhnthu kaanum’. The context of this song is as follows. The crown prince Jeevakan (played by MGR), pretending to be a nutty character sings this sweet song, set in folk melody by music maestro G. Ramanathan, to fool his tormentor villain T.S. Balaiah and his coterie in a palace setting. Those interested can enjoy listening to this time less song in the You Tube [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESqpRUMjBss].

Jayaraman’s sparkling voice and youthful MGR’s splendid lip-synching act for this song were dual treats that are simply matchless. For its relevance to Karunanidhi’s current plight, I provide the original lyrics below and a not-so perfect English translation of it. Idiomatic words or phrases in Tamil (like melam, thaali, jathi, thaalam, Appa and Suppa) are utterly difficult to translate.

Melam Kotti – thali katti – methai pola vazhnthu kaanum

Paathai viddu – paathai maari povatho – Kan

Paarvai kettu – paLLam thedi veezhvatho?


Paasam meeridum aasaiyodu Nee –

Paalai oothida aavalaahave

Padupaddu paampai thedal aahuma?

Koodu viddu koodu paaivathu ahuma?


Naanum keddu – neeyum keddu –

Nambi vantha aaLum keddu

KaaLum keddu – thathin kinathom poodava? – Jathi

thaaLathodu – kaalai thooki aadava?


Aanaana padda Raja vellam thaanaanapadum pothu – Intha

Veena poona manishan podum veLichham paLikkathu

Thanthanathana thanthanathana – thanthanathana thana tana

Thanthanathana thanthanathana – thanthanathana thana tana

Kailasathuku pora vazhiyai kaatu konjam paarpom – Athai

Kaanatha intha koodthaiyum Ange kondu serpom


Thanthanathana thanthanathana – thanthanathana thana tana

Thanthanathana thanthanathana – thanthanathana thana tana 

Vitarama seppadi vithaiyum pazhakurare Appa – Nee

Sethalume pizhaikamaade therinchukada Suppa.


My English translation of Ramaiah Das lyric is,

With a drumbeat and sacred thread tied [you] lived like a scholar

Now you have opted to change your tracks – Lost sight

And searched for a ditch to fall into.


With passion and love you wished to feed milk

Is it fine to labor and search for a snake?

Is it OK to jump from plank to plank?


I lost, you lost, those who trusted us lost

Feet got ruined by missteps – should

We dance for a faulty rhythm?


Even when the great rajahs do tumble – then this

Cheating guy’s word will never ever be relied

[rhythmical refrain]

Can you show us the path to the Heaven? – Those

Who haven’t seen it, let’s take them there.

[rhythmical refrain]

By practicing the art of magic – you [Appa] – but will you learn

that even if you die, the lost name cannot be recovered [Suppa]!

The beauty of this song is that line for line, it is a perfect epitaph for Karunanidhi’s duplicitous political career. In the past, Karunanidhi’s rule was toppled twice by the Congress Party leaders, Indira Gandhi (in 1976) and by Rajiv Gandhi (in 1991). Even then, he failed to learn the lesson of self-respect, about which he wrote reams in Tamil prose. To spite his bete noire Jayalalitha and for the greed of holding the Chief Minister position again, he joined hands with the same Congress Party, now led by Sonia Gandhi (widow of Rajiv Gandhi). And he paid for it. The two lines of the song, willingly searching for a snake (that had bitten him in the past) to feed it with milk, were aptly fitting. And this from a Dravidian front leader who in 1950s and 1960s spewed venom on Congress hegemony in the Center.

Karunanidhi-Jayalalitha cartoon (1998, in 'India Today')

Karunanidhi-Jayalalitha cartoon (1998, in ‘India Today’)

I repeat the lines, what I wrote in Quo Vadis – Part 1, ten years ago. “So, what does future holds for Karunanidhi? His primal desire now is to follow the steps of his mentor Anna and pal-turned-adversary MGR, of exiting the world stage while holding the post of Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.” What a pity? His desire was thwarted by last month’s election results. Again, the last sentence of that Part 1 commentary was this. “What one can only wish is whether Karunanidhi’s son and Prince-in-Waiting, M.K. Stalin, would turn out to be a sincere character devoid of his father’s Machiavellian traits.”

Five days before the election day, Karunanidhi announced, “Mr. Stalin himself has not only made it clear that he is not interested in becoming the Chief Minister, but also has reiterated that DMK leader [Karunanidhi] will be the Chief Minister”. After the election, he might have reflected and regretted on the number of votes lost for his DMK-Congress Party alliance, by this sort of power-greedy, loose talk. In his exclusive interview to B. Kolappan of The Hindu [May 28, 2016], presenting a positive spin to the performance of DMK in the recent elections, Karunanidhi had stated that “You can forgive your enemy. Can you forgive a betrayer?” This relates to the role of his estranged son M.K. Alagiri, for whose nomination as a Central government minister in the Congress Party-led government on June 2009, Karunanidhi betrayed the interests of Eelam Tamils at a crucial time. Sure, he is entitled for his positive spin. I would have wished, if the Hindu reporter had aggressively pointed at the tactical blunders committed by Karunanidhi himself for promoting himself as the chief minister (CM) aspirant at the age of nineties. Call it political magic or not, facing the voters, MGR could get elected consecutively twice (1980 and 1984) as CM; as of now, Jayalalitha had proved that she could get elected consecutively once (2016) as CM. But, Karunanidhi had failed miserably in this yardstick of performance, despite his lengthy political career and serving five times as the CM.



  1. Kolappan: Election Commission colluded with AIADMK, says Karunanidhi. The Hindu (Chennai), May 28, 2016.

Special Correspondent: Stalin can be CM only after me, says Karunanidhi. The Hindu (Chennai), May 11, 2016.

A.R. Venkatachalapathy: Why the DMK lost? The Hindu (Chennai), May 21, 2016.

No Responses to “Quo Vadis Karunanidhi?”

  1. Arul

    Apt article to celebrate the fall of Karunanidhi. For all his sins, he deserves many more humiliations before he dies.