“Kehte hai ki filmon ki tarah hamari zindagi mein bhi end tak sab theek hi ho jaata hai. Happys Endings. Aur agar theek na ho toh woh ‘The End’ nahi. Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost.” -Shahrukh Khan from Om Shaanti Om
Seems like this metaphor for a happy living isn’t valid anymore because the landscape of Bollywood has evolved in the past few years and so has its audience. Well, at least the latter is starting to.
We’re talking about Bollywood going beyond the idea of a “happily ever after”. Movie plots aren’t the same anymore, they’re starting to familiarize the audience with open-endings or in some cases a miserable note and looming curiosity.
For instance movies like Piku, Finding Fanny and The Lunchbox, don’t end on perfect notes - they do give you a promise of a better future but not exactly a fairytale ending. It’s exciting to watch cinema where the romance is subtle and not predictable. Masaan is yet another great example because it sure makes the viewers feel like they know what they’re watching but the end leaves them in shock and wonder.
Speaking of which Highway and Rockstar do not tread far from this category. Both the movies advance in unexpected directions and finally leave us in tears and a million questions. And the best part is, these movies aren’t esoteric or highly vague in nature, in fact, they are almost always relatable. They just make you a bit uncomfortable owing to its unorthodox perspective.
Producers known for commercial cinema are also into open-endings now. For instance, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu by Dharma Productions ended on a friendly note instead of a romantic one. So did Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Bollywood is finally portraying real-life scenarios where people get friend-zoned and/or rejected, and their first love isn’t necessarily a happily ever after.
There are various other filmmakers who took this route. Unexplained endings are a fad now! Dil Dhadakne Do by Zoya Akhtar, Kahaani by Sujoy Ghosh, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai by Milan Luthria and Dev D by Anurag Kashyap - all of these movies left people intrigued and how. The best part about movies minus a conventional happy ending is that they organically provide food for thought.
When filmmakers avoid happy endings and choose an abstract alternative they want to leave it all to our imagination; and without many definitions, their films speak volumes. Initially, we did feel a bit incomplete because we’ve been feeding on years of fairy-tale cinema, but slowly yet steadily we’ve sailed quite far.
Let’s just say, we’re more than glad to be a part of a generation that has experienced this evolution of Indian cinema. We have loved DDLJ as much as we’ve enjoyed an Udta Punjab or a Badlapur. We’re open to new ideas and eccentric plots. We’re progressive and we can’t wait to experience everything the industry has in store for us.
Stream films with happily ever afters (and never afters) here.