Where there is Rajinikanth, there is punch dialogue

What is a Rajinikanth movie without a phrase that brings on the whistles?

Rajinikanth didn’t invent the punch dialogue, but it is safe to say that nobody has popularised the delivery of sharply written lines aimed for maximum effect better than the Tamil screen icon.

Rajinikanth’s new movie Kabali doesn’t have any lines specifically aimed at inducing whistles, according to its new generation director Pa Ranjith. But the manner in which Rajinikanth’s Malaysian gangster character says “Kabali da” in the trailer is meant to send shivers down the spines of audiences, as are the swagger and cold stare. The line is already being parodied in other films even before its July 22 release.

The trailer of ‘Kabali’.

Dialogue writers have been crucial to Rajinikanth’s screen persona right from his early days as a villain in the films of K Balachander and Bharathiraaja. As early as 16 Vayathinile (1977), the actor had made his lines as important as his unique delivery of them. “Ethu eppadi irrukku (How’s that?),” is mimicked till date.

In Murattukalai (1980), Rajinikanth’s oft-repeated line, “Seeviduven (I will hack you to death),” was seen as a boost to his menacing persona. The multifaceted Panju Arunachalam, who is a producer, director, writer and lyricist, came up with the one-liner intended to charm the front-benchers. And it did.

“Punch dialogues were invented to prop up the hero,” said author and screenwriter Devibharathi. “When the cinema witnessed heroics beyond the grasp of the common man and one in which he could get satisfaction only by proxy, the punch dialogue came into its own.”

The idea of a verbal punch that adds to the movie’s commercial punch took firm shape in the 1990s. Annamalai (1992) thrust the actor into a space that he has, by and large, made his own. Directed by Suresh Krissna, the hit social drama about estranged friends unequivocally showed that in the hands of the right actor, the punch line could, if written well, go very far in deciding the movie’s commercial success.


In a pivotal scene, the titular character played by Rajinikanth challenges his rich friend-turned foe that he will end his reign of power, money and fame. “Mark this day in your calendar…,” the monologue starts and by the time it ends a few electrifying moments later, audiences have leapt out of their seats howling and whistling with joy.

Annamalai was jointly written by Krissna and Shanmuga Sundaram, who came up with many lines during the shoot. Since that movie, nearly every major Rajinikanth release has at least one line that has the power of a slogan.

Punch dialogue reached peak optimisation in Krissna’s Baasha (1995), a loose remake of the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Hum (1991). One of the lines, “I say it once, I say it a hundred times,” has gone down in Tamil film history as one of the most popular utterances by a Rajinikanth character. The movie catapulted the actor into the superstar league, with box office success matching critical acclaim.

In Arunachalam (1997), the dialogue “Andavan solran, Arunachalam mudikaran (God proposes, Arunachalam executes”, became a youth mantra even though the film didn’t do as well as expected. Padaiyappa (1999) has “En vazhi thani vazhi (I make my own way),” another one of the superstar’s most quoted lines.

The necessity of giving Rajinikanth a line that will send viewers into paroxysms of delight has become the burden that few films can bear. Some movies have replaced the punchline with punch sounds. The films Chandramukhi (2005) and Enthiran (2010) don’t really have clever lines. The “lakalakalaka” delivery in Chandramukhi, the P Vasu-directed adaptation of the Malayalam superhit Manichithrathazhu did give much-needed impetus to the climatic sequence.

In the science fiction fantasy Enthiran, Rajinikanth plays both Vaseegaran and his robot Chitti. In the lengthy climax, Chitti, who is smitten by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s character, ask her to identify Vaseegaran, whom he describes as a “black sheep”. The actor bleats, “Maa maa.”

Lingaa (2014) tried to avoid punchlines as much as possible, which cited as one of the reasons for its commercial failure. “This is commercial cinema catering to the common denominator,” observed the writer Devibharathi. “It is not necessarily good cinema.”

Worshippers of the Rajinikanth punch line might not get their kicks out of Kabali, but they can rest assured that the sequel to Endhiran by director Shankar will have enough whistle-inducing moments. Also starring Akshay Kumar as the villain and Amy Jackson as the heroine, the under-production movie “will have all the commercial elements of a Rajinikanth blockbuster”, said screenwriter B Jeyamohan. He strongly hinted that punch dialogue will be the order of the day as far as his script is concerned.

The fact that nearly every Tamil actor, from Vijay and Ajith to the newbies, look to deliver lines that will hopefully propel them towards stardom proves that punch dialogue is an integral part of the Tamil film landscape. As Rajinikanth said it himself in Baba (2002): “Naan lata vandalum latesta varuven (I might be late, but I will always be the latest).”

A mashup of Rajinikanth’s punch dialogue.
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

The ordeal of choosing the right data pack for your connectivity needs

"Your data has been activated." <10 seconds later> "You have crossed your data limit."

The internet is an amazing space where you can watch a donkey playing football while simultaneously looking up whether the mole on your elbow is a symptom of a terminal diseases. It’s as busy as it’s big with at least 2.96 billion pages in the indexed web and over 40,000 Google search queries processed every second. If you have access to this vast expanse of information through your mobile, then you’re probably on something known as a data plan.

However, data plans or data packs are a lot like prescription pills. You need to go through a barrage of perplexing words to understand what they really do. Not to mention the call from the telecom company rattling on at 400 words per minute about a life-changing data pack which is as undecipherable as reading a doctor’s handwriting on the prescription. On top of it all, most data packs expect you to solve complex algorithms on permutations to figure out which one is the right one.


Even the most sophisticated and evolved beings of the digital era would agree that choosing a data pack is a lot like getting stuck on a seesaw, struggling to find the right balance between getting the most out of your data and not paying for more than you need. Running out of data is frustrating, but losing the data that you paid for but couldn’t use during a busy month is outright infuriating. Shouldn’t your unused data be rolled over to the next month?

You peruse the advice available online on how to go about choosing the right data pack, most of which talks about understanding your own data usage. Armed with wisdom, you escape to your mind palace, Sherlock style, and review your access to Wifi zones, the size of the websites you regularly visit, the number of emails you send and receive, even the number of cat videos you watch. You somehow manage to figure out your daily usage which you multiply by 30 and there it is. All you need to do now is find the appropriate data pack.

Promptly ignoring the above calculations, you fall for unlimited data plans with an “all you can eat” buffet style data offering. You immediately text a code to the telecom company to activate this portal to unlimited video calls, selfies, instastories, snapchats – sky is the limit. You tell all your friends and colleagues about the genius new plan you have and how you’ve been watching funny sloth videos on YouTube all day, well, because you CAN!


Alas, after a day of reign, you realise that your phone has run out of data. Anyone who has suffered the terms and conditions of unlimited data packs knows the importance of reading the fine print before committing yourself to one. Some plans place limits on video quality to 480p on mobile phones, some limit the speed after reaching a mark mentioned in the fine print. Is it too much to ask for a plan that lets us binge on our favourite shows on Amazon Prime, unconditionally?

You find yourself stuck in an endless loop of estimating your data usage, figuring out how you crossed your data limit and arguing with customer care about your sky-high phone bill. Exasperated, you somehow muster up the strength to do it all over again and decide to browse for more data packs. Regrettably, the website wont load on your mobile because of expired data.


Getting the right data plan shouldn’t be this complicated a decision. Instead of getting confused by the numerous offers, focus on your usage and guide yourself out of the maze by having a clear idea of what you want. And if all you want is to enjoy unlimited calls with friends and uninterrupted Snapchat, then you know exactly what to look for in a plan.


The Airtel Postpaid at Rs. 499 comes closest to a plan that is up front with its offerings, making it easy to choose exactly what you need. One of the best-selling Airtel Postpaid plans, the Rs. 499 pack offers 40 GB 3G/4G data that you can carry forward to the next bill cycle if unused. The pack also offers a one year subscription to Amazon Prime on the Airtel TV app.

So, next time, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Click here to find a plan that’s right for you.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel and not by the Scroll editorial team.