Earlier, there were just two kinds of endings to Bollywood films, happy or tragic. And both concluded with the big, bold placard declaring ‘The End’. Nowadays there is life for the movies even after The End.
It could be a music video shot separately from the film featuring one or more of the film’s principal stars. Or, in the case of Abhinay Deo’s Delhi Belly, the film’s producer Aamir Khan came at the end to do an item song inspired by Mithun Chakraborty’s 1970s’ crotch-swivelling movements.
If it isn’t a music video done beyond the film’s plot, it is out-takes, or shots of the actors at work with the director that were not used in the film. All Rohit Shetty’s comedies employ out-takes at the end where we see the entire cast having more fun than we had watching the film.
A filmmaker guffaws, “Don’t quote me on this. But out-takes in a Rohit Shetty film are sometimes more interesting than the feature film. I don’t mind missing the opening of Shetty’s film because you can catch his films from anywhere. But I wouldn’t miss the out-takes for the world.”
These out-takes took a poignant turn in Yash Chopra’s farewell feature, Jab Tak Hai Jaan where it was decided at the last hour to include shots of Chopra shooting the film. The final images had a lingering impact on the audience who felt more kindly towards the film.
Are the end games being played by filmmakers mere gimmicks and props intended to boost audience participation? Subhash Ghai is all for end embellishments. “Music videos, out-takes mean extra entertainment over the story. But these embellishments work only when the film does.
Otherwise these extraneous trappings show the filmmaker’s insecurities.” Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri feels the trend of adding music videos began when, “Music became an independent territory and music companies started dictating terms. In Bollywood, the promotional song became the main instrument. And since these songs were shot as an after thought and had no place in the film, some ingenious souls came up with the wise idea of inserting them with the end-titles.”
Commenting slyly on Vishal Bhardwaj’s Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola where protagonist Pankaj Kapoor and antagonist Shabana Azmi are shown dancing together at the end, Agnihotri says, “Now the trend of a musical end-game has reached ludicrous proportions with a recent movie showing the hero and villain dancing together for the film’s title song. I’d never do such a thing.”
However, Nishikant Kamat who made the gritty real-life drama Mumbai Meri Jaan feels end-songs in a film are here to stay. “The audience has lots of films today that do not have regular songs and dances. With songs it is easier to publicise the films at the pre-release stage. Many filmmakers do not include these songs in their films, but they are necessary for publicity. Thus they are sometimes seen during the end-credits.”
As for out-takes where we see the actors having fun during shooting, Kamat opines, “They generally go well with the mood of comedy and action films. This spices up a film and the end-product lingers a bit longer in the audiences’ minds.”
Vikas Bahl, whose Chillar Party ended with an item song by Ranbir Kapoor says, “A lot of contemporary cinema is a slice of life as opposed to earlier films which completed a whole life-cycle during its playing-time. So the end-music seems appropriate as it gives an ‘open’ ending to the film.”
Sujoy Ghosh feels ending a film unconventionally depends on the genre of the film. “Most Jackie Chan films end with out-takes and are great fun to watch. But I couldn’t have done the same in Kahaani because I wanted the audience to leave with a particular thought and mood.”
Talaash director Reema Kagti feels unconventional endings are fine as long as they don’t hamper the mood of the film. “If done nicely and suited to the script, unconventional endings do work. But that doesn’t mean conventional endings will stop.” Bejoy Nambiar agrees with Kagti. “It depends on the film and filmmaker. As far as I am concerned, out-takes work best with comedies.”
Sometimes a music video featuring a particular star works at the end of the film. For example, Aamir Khan was expected to make an appearance somewhere during the film as he produced it. He did. In the forthcoming Zanjeer, Telugu superstar Ramcharan Teja plays the sullen introverted anti-establishment cop Vijay (played originally by Amitabh Bachchan in 1973’s Zanjeer).
But since Ramcharan Teja’s fans expect him to sing and dance, a special song would be devised. This would be played for the film’s promotion and as part of the end-titles of Zanjeer. And never mind if the cop would seem out of character singing after the movie is done.
Rahul Dholakia, whose film on Kashmir militancy Lamhaa had no lip-sync songs, says end-games for films are all part of a culture borrowed from Hollywood. “And our top stars these days produce films. They justify their behind-the-scenes involvement with films by making an unscheduled appearance at the end of the film. However, if unconventional endings work for a film, I see nothing wrong with them.”
Subhash Kapoor, whose latest directorial venture was the new-age, songs-only-in-the- background film Jolly LLB, feels end-credits give a filmmaker a chance to be innovative. “Music videos are a marketing tool these days. Since one can’t use them anywhere in the film, the end-credit roll is the most obvious place for it. It’s like the supari or paan after a meal. But it is helpful only if the meal is worth it.”
Says filmmaker Shashanka Ghosh, “It’s a great opportunity to add a track to a film. It can be used in many ways to set the tone as one leaves the theatre. Works like a charm for humour and as a large hearted parting-shot.” Ken Ghosh feels the end-song is a welcome intrusion. “Today’s audience is a hungry beast. Sometimes, just the film is not enough. They want to see more about how the film is made. Hence the out-takes.”
Filmmaker Samir Karnik gives an interesting historic perspective to the whole question of end-titles. “In the old days there was no concept of end-titles. Nowadays end-titles are a must and a song at the end helps audiences forget how bad the film was,” he says.
Director Tanuja Chandra feels each filmmaker must end a film as he or she thinks fit. “Out-takes and music videos lend themselves suitably to the overall tone of comic films or romcoms,” she says. Final word on out-takes in movies comes from the prolific Telugu director S S Rajamouli many of whose blockbusters have lately been remade into Hindi. “I find these last-minute inclusions very interesting. In fact, many a time, I find them more appealing than the movie itself,” he signs off.
>> Out-takes showing the cast and director of the film working on the set are the new ways to end a film.
>> Unconventional endings may work but the film needs to stand on its own, otherwise these are gimmicks at best.
>> Sometimes, it is the endings post the end that seem to be more appealing than the film, say some cheekily.
>> This trend is inspired by Hollywood, say some.