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No more happy endings in Bollywood films

An increasing number of heroes are dying a tragic death in recent movies, but that’s only good news for the box office, reports Aditi Pant.

bollywood Updated: Aug 30, 2013 11:46 IST
Aditi Pant
Sonam-Kapoor-s-fresh-pairing-opposite-Tamil-superstar-Dhanush-has-been-the-talk-of-the-town-for-a-while-now-Here-s-a-look-at-the-first-few-stills-from-their-upcoming-film-Raanjhana
Sonam-Kapoor-s-fresh-pairing-opposite-Tamil-superstar-Dhanush-has-been-the-talk-of-the-town-for-a-while-now-Here-s-a-look-at-the-first-few-stills-from-their-upcoming-film-Raanjhana

Remember the time when the world’s most complicated plots in Bollywood flicks miraculously worked out in the end to give the film its proverbial ‘happy ending’? That time is long gone. With a rise in realistic cinema, an increasing number of films now have a tragic ending, with, heroes, dying in the end.

In Aashiqui 2, Aditya Roy Kapur’s alcoholic character commits suicide. In Lootera, Ranveer Singh gets gunned down by police. And, in Raanjhanaa, Dhanush meets a tragic violent end. Not only have these films garnered praise from critics, but also worked wonders at the box office, shunning the myth that sad endings do not do good business.

While some industry experts are calling it a phase that will eventually fade out, others insist that the trend had come about in the past too. “It’s a phase like other phases in Bollywood that come and go. There was a huge number of films with happy endings, so now we have films where heroes are meeting with a tragic end,” says filmmaker Onir. “It’s as if history is repeating itself. We have had films such as Deewar (1975) and Sholay (1975) in the past where the heroes met with a tragic end too. The trend certainly seems to be back this year,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

A close analysis of these films also highlights the rise of the anti-hero in movies. “Films such as Lootera and Aashiqui 2 show anti-heroic elements, where the protagonists are not all white or black,” says Onir.

This trend is in contrast with many instances in the past when a filmmaker was forced to change his storyline for it to have a happy ending. Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, for instance, wanted Abhishek Bachchan’s character to die in the end in Delhi 6. But after facing pressure from the producers, Mehra had to change the end.

Ranveer Singh’s character is shot dead in Lootera; Aditya Roy Kapur’s character drives himself to death In Aashiqui 2; In Kai Po Che, Sushant Singh Rajput’s character gets accidentally killed by his best friend.

It’s a phase, just like several other phases in Bollywood that come and go... now we have films where heroes are meeting with a tragic end - Onir, filmmaker

We’ve had films such as Deewar (1975) and Sholay (1975) where the heroes met with a tragic end. The trend seems to be back. -
Taran Adarsh, trade analyst

Death of the hero

Films with tragic endings:

Raanjhanaa
Lootera
Aashiqui 2
Kai Po Che
BA Pass
Shortcut Romeo