A film’s climax has the power to decide how we feel about the entire movie. Happy endings, however comforting, give us a false sense of security that give us the feeling that the characters are still alright. But tragedies, by definition, leave us heartbroken with us wondering the many other possibilities for the characters we’ve come to identify. We then also get a third kind of climax—the open ended ones where it falls on us to decide if the ending is happy or not.
In one way, the climax is among the most crucial aspects of the story. The pay off in the third act is proportional to the film’s success, with odd endings changing its very fate. Here are eight Malayalam films, from Nayattu to The Great Indian Kitchen, with endings that broke the rules to leave us with lasting impressions longer than the films themselves.
The Blind Voter In Nayattu
It’s election day, and the film’s two principal characters have been arrested and are on their way to police custody. As they drive past the town, the camera shifts focus to a polling booth where a visually impaired senior citizen is being guided to the EVM machine by a supposed volunteer. What happens after is a symbol representing our democracy.
The frail index finger of the visually challenged women is held by the volunteer and silently guided towards clicking an already intended party symbol. It gets the viewer thinking if it was the choice of the voter’s or not. This beautifully crafted sequence sums up the message that the movie intends to deliver, showcasing the state of the system and the ways it can be exploited for political gains, leading to the entrapment of people working for that very system. The visually impaired person is a representation of the common man who is blinded by propaganda, communal/caste/religious conflicts and jingoism which affects the decision to vote.
The Dream Ending Of Mayanadhi
Director Aashiq Abu’s love story takes inspiration from Jean-Luc Godard’s classic Breathless. The rekindling of lost love between Mathan and Aparna with an excellent soundtrack by Rex Vijayan was well received by critics and viewers alike. In the climactic sequence when Mathan is on the verge of being executed by a group of police officers, one of the officers (Ilavarasu) tells him that Aparna was informed about Mathan’s past and she willingly played the bait to capture him.
Ilavarasu further questions Mathan if he still loves her to which Maathan replies with a simple yes and claims what she did was right. During the final sequence of the encounter, the claims made by the cops were to make Mathan realise that he was captured with the help of the woman he truly loved. Mathan’s reply which takes everyone by surprise indicates logical reasoning rather than an expected “Et tu, Brute?” reaction.
Adaminte Vaariyellu — Rescued Liberation Beyond The Fourth Wall
In director K.G.George’s Adaminte Vaariyellu, Ammini a domestic help subjected to sexual exploitation and later confined in a women’s rescue home, instigates other women like her to set themselves free. This creates a chain reaction leading to an impressive and impactful climax where the women barge out of their confinements towards freedom. They even break the fourth wall by running past the film crew, including the director himself.
K.G.George was a director with a strong vision for social realities (Irakal, Panchavadi Palam to name a few). Adaminte Vaariyellu focused on issues faced by women from different social strata. Here two of the three protagonists seek liberation through death while the third liberates herself while encouraging her inmates also to do so. The climax shot of women barging out of the rescue home is further enhanced by M.B.Sreenivasan’s triumphant march score providing a strong visual representation that needs no elaborate explanation.
Ishq And A Middle Finger To Patriarchy
Anuraj Manohar’s directorial venture throws light on moral policing and its consequences through this thriller starring Shane Nigam, Ann Sheetal, Shine Tom Chacko, and Jaffer Idukki. Sachi and Vasudha’s pleasure drive gets hampered when they come across two men posing as police officers. Things get out of hand when Vasudha gets harassed. What follows is how Sachi takes revenge on the perpetrators but only because his male ego is hurt. In the post climactic sequence, Vasudha asks Sachi why he is so bothered about what they had done to her. Sachi does not answer and distracts by proposing to her with a ring. In her iconic response, Vasudha rejects the proposal by showing him the finger.
Ee.Ma.Yau—To Hell or Heaven
Lijo Jose Pellisserry’s Ee.Ma.Yau tells the tale of Eeshi played by Chemban Vinod and his father Vavachan played by Kainakary Thankaraj who dreams about getting a grand funeral. The plot kicks in after Vavachan’s sudden demise and the complications that occur while Eeshi attempts to fulfill his father’s will. In the final sequence, Eeshi takes matters to his hand and buries the corpse of Vavachan in the yard of his house, leaving the rest of the villagers as mere spectators.
The revelation occurs in the mid-credit shot where the souls of Vavachan and the gravedigger are accompanied to the seashore by the two card players who were angels in disguise. We get a glimpse of two ships sailing towards them from different directions which would decide their fate for the afterlife.
Vadakkunokkiyanthram – Delusional Compass
The climax of Martin Scorsese’s 2010 thriller Shutter Island took viewers by shock with its twist ending. Wind back the clock to 1989, Vadakkunokkiyantram directed by Sreenivasan was an acclaimed family drama that revolved around the character Thalathil Dineshan played by Sreenivasan himself. Dineshan, stricken with Othello syndrome, ends up suspecting his wife and neighbours, causing discord in his marital life.
In the climax, after a brief stint at the hospital Dineshan unites with his family members and wife. Just while expecting the end credits to roll we are subjected to a startling glimpse of Dineshan waking up from his slumber and pointing out a flashlight towards his garden and watching out with paranoia. This sequence indicates to the viewer that Dineshan has not yet recovered. He perhaps even suspects the viewer too. This was Sreenivasan’s debut directorial and the film went on to win three Kerala State film awards including Best Film.
The Great Indian Kitchen – Patriarchy Down The Sink
Director Jeo Baby’s fourth directorial venture created a storm of sorts after its initial release on OTT platform Nee Stream. Later, it’s popularity doubled after it began streaming on Amazon Prime. The film showcases issues women face in a patriarchal family through the aspect of food. The screenplay is enhanced by the performances of its leads Suraj Venjaramood and Nimisha Sajayan. For the people yet to watch the film the climax shot is an emotional outburst that also involves water from the sink.
Do watch the film to experience this scene in its full glory. About 90% of the film is shot within a house with few outdoor sequences, and the most prominent sequence takes place during the end when Nimisha’s character steps out of the house after she has had enough. That’s when the audience senses a liberating feeling along with Nimisha’s character as she walks past a vast sea coast with several households where the men appear to be relaxing as the women work.
Crumpled Hope In Kazhcha
In director Blessy’s first film, Madhavan (Mammotty) and his family form an unforgettable bond with a lost little boy who happens to end up with them. At first, the boy born in Gujarat struggles to adjust with the ways of Kuttanad but it only takes a while for mutual love to begin. As things start to get better Madhavan needs to decide between doing the right thing or the most emotional thing. He chooses the first and tries to reunite the boy with his family. Even though he’s happy to adopt the boy if his family doesn’t show up, the application papers he leaves with the authorities are merely crumpled and thrown aside, leaving the family and us with no hope. Madhavan is perhaps still trying to find the boy.