From Kongu to Singala Tamil, many actors have tried out different dialects on the big screen to make their character more convincing.

Ajiths Madurai in Viswasam Suriyas Nellai in Singam Dialects in Tamil cinema
Flix Kollywood Saturday, January 19, 2019 - 12:51

In Viswasam, actor Ajith played a village goon from Madurai. In Red (2002) too, he had played the role of a local don from Madurai. To sound more authentic this time, the actor tried speaking in the local dialect, inserting phrases like ‘injarule’ (a local exclamation for ‘won’t you look at this?’) to make a pronounced effect.

Although not one hundred percent authentic, we’ve seen actors trying out new dialects time and again which would give more edge to their character. And most times, this becomes a unique aspect of the film that is extolled by the makers before its release. Here's a list of dialects we've seen on the big screen and the films in which they featured.

'Madras' Tamil

This is one of the most common dialects that stars slip into. From Kamal Haasan to Vikram, all of them have done it at least once in their career. This sharp-edged dialect has classist undertones to it, indicating that the hero hails from working-class areas.

Undoubtedly, Kamal Haasan tops the list with the actor having tried out almost all possible dialects. His wisecracks in the Madras dialect in films like Maharasan, Michael Madana Kamarajan, Kadhala Kadhala, Pammal K Sambandham and Vasool Raja MBBS, have been some of his best.

Vikram has tried the same in films like Gemini, I and Sketch while Dhanush has done it more convincingly in films like Pudupettai, Polladhavan, Maari and Vada Chennai. Vijay, too, has employed this dialect in films like Thirumalai and Pokkiri and Suriya has spoken in Madras Tamil in Mayavi, Ayan and Aaru. Ajith has done it in films like Attahasam and Vedhalam.

Actor Rajinikanth aka the Superstar, has never found the need to lace his dialogues with a specific dialect. His Tamil, in fact, is among his unique strengths. What might have been a dangerous disadvantage for many, Rajini turned it into a charm, proving that he is the only person who could possibly pull it off. The mildly accented Tamil he has used to his advantage, presenting it with a style that is quite hard to acquire. Yet, the actor has surprised fans with a few cautious experiments in Madras Tamil.

Other actors like Karthi in Aayirathil Oruvan, Madras and Saguni, Vijay Sethupathi in films like Idharku Thane Aasapattai Balakumara, Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum, Vikram Vedha, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, actor Jiiva in Siva Manasula Sakthi have all spoken in Madras Tamil.

It is also interesting to note that comedians from Chandrababu to Cho Ramaswamy to Janagaraj to Santhanam have given us some of the best jokes delivered in this dialect.

Yet the crown has to be given to aachi Manorama for her astounding library of dialects. She slips into different dialects with more ease than any other actor has ever done. We’ll leave you with this song the actor has sung to prove that she’s easily the Queen of the Madras dialect.

Nellai's nuanced dialect

The Tirunelveli/Nellai accent is one of the most nuanced dialects that there is and very few actors have tried it. But you can be sure, any film set in the backdrop of the lush green villages of Tirunelveli has had actors speak this tongue.

Madhavan has tried this in Dum Dum Dum while Vikram who played the rowdy cop in Saamy can be heard speaking this dialect too. Suriya’s Singam franchise is based on a cop from this region and so the dialect he uses is the Nellai dialect.

Kamal has spoken in this dialect in his films like Dasavatharam and Papanasam. Actor Rajini too spoke Nellai Tamil in his recent Kaala.

From Kongu, with love

Suriya in Aadhavan, Kamal in Sathi Leelavathy have adopted this sweet sounding dialect. Vijay’s “Yenungana”, a typical Kongu Tamil line, has become a popular catchphrase with the actor using it even in films which don’t have him speaking in that dialect.

Kongu Tamil is one of the most loved dialects in the state and actors who hail from this region like Sathyaraj, Manivannan, Kovai Sarala, Goundamani have spoken this dialect is many of their films.

The Madurai diction

Madurai Tamil stands out distinctly from the rest for its sharp delivery. The dialect demands the speaker to be unabashed in their delivery. Time and again we’ve seen many present their dialogues in Madurai Tamil.

Kamal in Thevar Magan and Virumandi, Karthi and Priya Mani in Paruthiveeran, Vijay in Sivakasi, Mathurey and Tirupachi, Ajith in Viswasam, Bobby Simha in Jigarthanda, Prakash Raj in Ghilli, Dhanush in Aadukalam, Vishal in Sanda Kozhi, Bharath in Kaadhal and Jai in Subramaniyapuram are some of the notable examples.

Kizhakku Cheemayile too is another good example where all the actors in the cast speak this dialect. Comedians Vadivelu aka Vaigai Puyal and Ganja Karupu often speak this dialect, more authentically than anyone else, in most of their films. 

Singala Tamil

This dialect is not so common in Tamil films with just a few notable exceptions. Kamal Haasan in Tenali and Prakash Raj in Kannathil Muthamittal are some of the examples.

Palakkad Brahmin Tamil

This dialect again has been spoken very few times in Tamil films. Most popular among them are Kamal Haasan, Oorvasi and Delhi Ganesh in Michael Madana Kamarajan and actor Madhavan in Nala Damayanthi.

Brahmin Tamil

This is another dialect that has been commonly used in Tamil films. Vikram in Anniyan, Kamal Haasan in Dasavatharam and Avvai Shanmugi are some of the examples.