Note: The author unapologetically refuses to include the larger than life, law of mass action hero. This stereotype made for some engaging unintentional humor for a short while but was so crassly overdone that a certain degree of hate has replaced the author's past opinion on the character.
Some stereotype characters that you will see in every tamil flick and nowhere else.
10. The "black" sidekick.
As a nod to the important tamil virtue of skin color, this character is used to add some dravidian diversity (varieties: light dark brown, medium dark brown, dark dark brown) to the pot. Essentially, his role is to just stand next to the hero so that the latter is made appealing to skin-color"ist" masses. As an aid to the slow-on-the-uptake audience, he bears liberally awarded titles that describe the level of his tan. He is often also used in side-plots to stimulate mass fantasies in conjugation with light-skinned soft-porn stars and caucasian extras. This seems to be a social service-driven move to ensure that the rich tamil culture in skin color obsession is never lost. Possibly represents a subtle tamil perspective on sci-fi eugenic cold wars.
Defining dialogue: "Enakku enna korachal?!"
9. The policeman and the rowdy
Do not be confused, they are both the same character. A bad policeman is a good rowdy. They essentially have to be evil incarnate, eat huge chicken thighs, spread rowdy "ism" (a widely accepted tamil twist) and spit at the camera when they yell loudly in animated crests and troughs. These characters are highly sought after for their testosterone charged encounters with the hero. These are the only guys with the balls to swear properly on screen (whereas the cowardly hero just makes poorly veiled allusions) and for that, they are badass.
Defining dialogue: "naan adicha nee sethuruva"
8. The rapist
This fellow is so identical to the hero that the movie-makers labelled him with a well-developed benign mole on the cheek to tell him apart. The hero can run after the heroine, pull at her saree, rub her underbelly and generally molest her in public because it is all done in synchronization with a song. However Lord rapist has no such luck with the music director and therefore dude, it is not cool. This otherwise equally sick bastard hence resorts to other means of ensuring regular satisfaction of his libido. Since he never gets the heroine, he settles for stereotype number 4. It has been observed that he is religiously bound to conduct the raping ritual only at the prime impregnating state of number 4's monthly cycle. As a positive he is always born to an encouraging father rapist who bequeaths to him plenty of rape money.
Defining dialogue: "Panchayat ku 500 rooba aparadham kattu. Illa na indha ponna kattu"
7. The foreigner
Let us be clear on this, the dictionary meaning of foreigner is white-skinned and preferably blonde-haired. The thespian qualities (and other important qualities that tamil audiences like) of this stereotype have been so good that this character has been promoted from song-sequence bystander to minor but essential fifteen-second character roles that demand method acting. At the core of the demand is the ability to speak tamil fluently but in a foreign accent that does not belong to any country that homes caucasians. Despite the high qualifications, many foreign achievers have successfully performed and impressed critics enough to allow the development of their own little guild that strives for the better cognizance of foreigners (still the same dictionary meaning wokay?) in India.
Defining dialogue: "karuppu dhan enku podichu color"
6. The brahmin mami
The brahmin mami may seem like a wholesome, kindhearted, chaste wife but do not let the description fool you, appearances do not deceive. She was once that youthful brahmin hottie that spoke in that stupid dialect in a cute way and showed up in dream song sequences in spaghetti tops and torn minis. Though she is a bit older, the hero still fantasizes about her and uses her daughter - the heroine to get to her. Maybe it is because she keeps offering hot coffee to everyone. She has brought sexy back to the saree with her daily use of the 9-yard madisar. More cultured societies refer to her as milf.
Defining dialogue: "saaptutu eppadi iruku nu sollu da ambi"
5. The bystander
The stereotype that most critics pay attention to. The bystander is a talented actor that is carefully taught to emote and react correctly (personally by the director and sometimes by celebrity bystanders that visit the set at lunch times) to the main characters of the scene. Since there is such a vast variety in the scenes and acts created in a tamil movie, these characters are specialists and one can gauge their quality by the level of their overacting. Bystanders perform over a dozen roles in a single movie but it is the technical excellence of a tamil movie that audiences do not notice it. One cannot say enough about the importance of a bystander to a movie and mankind as a whole.
Defining dialogue: "enna koduma saar idhu"
4. The sister
The innocence, the smile, the affection and the melodrama are all ploys to craftily disguise this suppressed nymphomaniac. Since the hero will cut off every tongue that calls her by such names, we will just call her Kannagi. Miss Kannagi is every bit of the All-Tamil (a not so widely accepted tamil twist) woman that all heroes demand that the heroine be...except for during a dream song-sequence. Miss K satisfies her nympho desires by luring young rapists (number 9) into a successful rape event after which she carefully plays everyone around her so she can be married off to Lord rapist. Turns out that the sure-shot impregnation of Miss K after the event is not a result of the rapist's instinct but her smart play. Thereafter, she lives the life of a real Kannagi and does not object to his affairs with other women so long as he returns home at some point so she can enjoy serving him food and beer before getting beaten up.
Defining dialogue: some innovative play of words with the word karpu inserted somewhere.
3. The brahmin mama.
The caste-obsessed mama is a honorable samaritan in mid-life crisis. Worn and tired by drinking mami's hot coffee, he is now content with a life devout to social discrimination. It is speculated that this character was created as an evil plot by the 3% majority brahmin population of Tamil Nadu to aid in the formation of a brahmin caste political party after MGR's grand success; however no such party has been formed yet to reward these committed attempts. In fact, the plan may have backfired as the otherwise docile features of the mama have endeared him as the punching-bag of choice for non-brahmin elements. But not all hope is lost yet. The manusmruti shall prevail some day. ha ha. muhahahahahahahaha.
Defining dialogue: "naeku inda sambandam vendam"
The ultimate archenemy. The rapist will be tortured by your sister for life, the rowdy and the policeman will shoot each other and the mama will die of STDs, but you have to personally see this guy off because he has the skin tone you want. They force you to learn hindi. They monopolize the rest of India. The occupied north Madras. The raging fire of the oppression of the tamil people because it has been geographically pushed to the rockbottom of India will be avenged through him.
Defining dialogue: "tamilan bolo"
1. The heroine (degree: import from north India)
Number one on the list because she is most eloquent, talented and shapely one of the lot. Caters to the tamil male need for flesh and flab at the same time. Best when they dub for themselves. They are the prize one gets if a victory is achieved against the seth-boy. Serve the huge social purpose of reassuring tamil youth that they will get laid by an individual of aryan descent no matter how much they lack education, manners or both.
Defining dialogue: "choli ke peeche kya hai"