Top 10: The Best Bollywood Movie Endings
Movies are the biggest source of entertainment around the globe, representing more than a medium of escapism, operating as an introspective voyage into self-understanding.
This week we’re talking about the best Bollywood endings, the final moments that leave us wanting more (sometimes less of it), that leaves us teary, happy sometimes, all in all, the endings that left us baffled even the next morning and the next and the next, even now.
Managing all the greatness in a list of 10 is a crime, some made it far but couldn’t get into such a tight spot.
So let’s get on with it:
For #10, we go with the prequels, sequels, cliffhangers. You can find it in Detective Byokesh Bakshy’s nemesis legacy, Baahubali: The Beginning’sphenomenal cliffhanger, No Smoking’s cryptic hangover, but we’re going with Anurag Kashyap’s epic crime lore — Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1.
When we talk about endings, we demand a sense of closure, a cessation to the drama we’ve seen unfolding in the last couple hours, and the opposite of this we get in Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1. After the mythology build up of Sardar Khan & Co., we get the mass execution of his empire and a perfect beginning for the next installment in the crime saga. Anurag Kashyap wanted to release the whole duology as a single movie, and he did shot the end or rather the “pivotal median” in an intriguing manner, all around the brisk vocals of Manoj Tiwari’s “Jiya Tu Bihar Ke Lala”
For #9, we go with the movies that shocked everyone’s’ nerves with a sense of foul-play, evil, deceit, caper. You can think of Raman Raghav 2.0 Ramanna’s heritage orchestration, Ek Hasina Thi’s nerve-stirring revenge, Sriram Raghavan earned a lot of praise for Badlapur’s portrayal of sacrifice but we pick another one of his, as no-one did it better than Johnny Gaddaar.
Sriram Raghavan’s neo-noir is a tribute to Vijay Anand’s existential influence on Bollywood dark-themed dramas, the title itself is an ode to Vijay and Dev Anand’s Johny Mera Naam. The deception of Johnny, various trickery all along, comes to a shocking end, the end that somehow we’ve all known along from the start. If Vijay Anand were alive, he’d have been proud of his endowment.
For #8, we pick movies that precept goodness, the act of humanity, empathy and hospitality towards sapiens, the act of coming together for a cause that won’t matter to a substantial community. You can find it in Iqbal, Piku, but we’re going with Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox.
The Lunchbox questions the morality: Does love gets a second chance? Do humans need to have monogamous relationships?
Ritesh Batra’s master debut got him worldwide recognition and set up Indian cinema on the global map of exhibition cinema.
After her father’s death, Ila hears her mother confess how she had an unhappy marriage, and she takes the step of leaving her husband. But, Saajan changes his mind, and finally, decides to listen to his heart, and continues his search for Ila. Credits Roll.
The end is a perfect amalgam of hope with fear. The decisions that our characters take may not affect more than a handful people, but the essence of their choices affects the meaningful few. And again the ending leaves us with the same question: Does love gets a second chance?
We can’t forget Bollywood dramas while making this list, the feel-good cinema. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’s final run, Rock On!!’s decade-long wait for the Magik’s performance, Sridevi’s ending monolog in English Vinglish, but we’ve got to give it to Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921).
Shakun Batra’s portrayal of a so-called “quintessential” family took critics and audiences by storm and gave us an ending for generations, the family portrait that got completed by its quirkiness. But more than that, the virtue of forgiving their family members for their mistakes, the upright acceptance of the family love.
We can’t get beyond without talking about Vishal Bharadwaj. For years, single-handedly he has been trying hard to keep alive the vile, darkly comic, dramas. Sometimes he fails, but other times he comes out with shining colors (or shining grayish chrome in his case). Be it the ending of Kaminey, The Blue Umbrella or his most prized possession, Shakespeare Trilogy, and we’re talking about the best of the lot, Haider.
Like Hamlet (on which the movie is based on), Haider too is a full-blown revenge drama, the very word inteqaam (revenge) spoken out loud dozens of time. But the end took a twist on the original play, rather than taking inteqaam, Haider chooses to leave his uncle/step-father alive, half-dead in the snow. Inteqaam se sirf Inteqaam paida hota hai (revenge spawns only ‘revenge’), the final words of his mother afloat in his ears, while he breaks his vow to choose the path of mercy. All stand. Applause.
For #5, we’re up for the classics. The movies that were the pioneer of emerging commercial cinema with niche subject matter. We’re talking about the tonga vs bus race in Naya Daur, the sugary sweet mustache-free end of Golmaal (1979), but we’re talking about another one of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s masterpiece, and the best work he’s remembered for, Anand.
The era of Bollywood that focused on family dramas, movies depicted as a blackboard, preaching for family morals, Anand came out of nowhere, not only touched people’s heart but also paved a way for experimental cinema. Anand remains popular even now, not only because of its relevance even after 46 years but also for that ending. The ending that you already know beforehand, the death of Anand, with the closing shot of balloons flying high in the blue sky, while you hear Babu-Moshay for one last time.
Since we’re talking about Bollywood, we can’t forget the romantic melodramas. The genre of love. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge is possibly the most popular Bollywood ending, we need to mention Tere Naam in this category, Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera touched us a little too (even if you’ve read it in your NCERT curriculum). But Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum grandeur Devdas hits the top spot.
Devdas is one of the rare pieces of blockbuster that actually worked, the true method of how mass blockbusters need to formulated. Yes, the source material is too good, but the credit goes to SLB’s superlative direction, dialogues and production design, one that even matches today’s standards. And the end, with Deva’s last breath, the diya (soil-lamp) fumes out, the symbolism which ends with Paro’s screams filling up the air.
For #3, we’re talking about the mystery-thriller genre. We love Ugly’s simple foreseen end, Manorama Six Feet Under’s quiet subtle explanation, we love Being Cyrus’s a total twist on the genre itself, but we’d be fooling ourselves if Kahaani doesn’t score among them.
We can’t think of a better-constructed thriller than Kahaani, following the three-act structure beautifully. It turned out to be a sleeper hit that shook everyone from their seats and turned up the bar for mystery-thrillers a bit high. The ending twist and the various analogies in the names of characters, it’s as if the term SPOILERS AHEAD was coined for this kind of cinema itself. And the best thing, the movie demands to be seen many times, the thing thrillers should aim for.
There are only a few subtle contenders for this category.
But for #2, we’ve our socio-political category, we have Shanghai’s docile acceptance of acting against the system, Mani Ratnam’s Guru has a great ending. But Indian movies have to try hard enough to top Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday!.
A Wednesday! is one of the rare pieces of cinema that didn’t attract many people to theaters but became an instant Television classic, and now has sprawled a couple remakes, one with Ben Kingsley himself portraying The Common Man. Naseeruddin Shah’s final act of revelation and the choice of leaving the character unnamed, depriving him of any religion associated with his name-tag, made it an instant cult-classic.
And at the helm’s rank, we talk about the Best Ending of All Time. And this is a hard one, we love Mughal-E-Azam’s Insaaf-ka-taraju, a motif of righteousness. We adore Mother India’s eccentric treatment to a mother’s rage, and again the act of the right judgment (and when we’re talking about the end of Mother India, we mean Vaastav too).
But we gotta give it to Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan. The movie revolves around Rohan and his actions of pleasing his father while trying to follow his dreams. And during the whole run-time, we see a criss-cross relationship between an abusive father and his son. But in the end, we realize, that it was not about them, it was about helping a young life, his own brother (step-brother), who’s passing through the same ordeals he did. Though the movie didn’t make clear whether Rohan gets to follow his dreams or not (to be a writer), but it made sure that his younger brother would get to follow his, he would be able to take the udaan.