In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Polite Society, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Ria Khan – Priya Kansara
- Lena Khan – Ritu Arya
- Fatima Khan – Shobu Kapoor
- Rafe Khan – Jeff Mirza
- Raheela – Nimra Bucha
- Salim – Akshay Khanna
- Clara – Seraphina Beh
- Alba – Ella Bruccoleri
- Kovacs – Shona Babayemi
- Eunice Huthart – Eunice Huthart
- Written by – Nida Manzoor
- Directed by – Nida Manzoor
The end of Polite Society explained
Ria and friends try to kidnap Lena from her own wedding. But the plan fails when Raheela gains the upper hand and threatens Ria’s life. Raheela gets Lena to the altar. Before the ceremony can finish, Ria crashes it. She reveals the tests Raheela and Salim have conducted on Lena. Something Lena realizes is true. She and her parents now understand Ria was right about Salim and his mother. The sisters escape but guests loyal to Raheela give chase.
With the help of Clara, Alba, and Kovacs, the sisters escape the party. Only to run into Raheela. She and Ria have another fight, with Raheela gaining the upper hand. Beaten down but not finished, Ria regains her feet, delivers her famous line, “I am the fury!” then finally hits the jumping spin kick. Raheela is out. The sisters leave. Ending up at a diner, they crush some late night food and reconnect. Eunice, the stuntwoman Ria idolizes, sends an email inviting Ria to meet.
What we learn from Lena:
The core tension between Ria and Raheela embodies a societal tension between independence and patriarchal expectations of women. Ria is part of this new generation that doesn’t care about what polite society wants from or expects of her. It makes her a bit of a weirdo but she’s happy and has friends. Raheela is someone who prioritized raising her son and traditional roles, at the cost of her own hopes and dreams.
Lena is caught in the middle. Even though Ria’s the protagonist, Lena’s the main character and representative of the everyperson who has that crisis of faith about their future. Do you chase the dream or get the corporate job that allows you to pay the bills? It’s a decision most of us face at one point or another. You can view Ria as the angel on one shoulder, Raheela as the devil on the other. Each one pleading for Lena to follow the path they want.
That’s the broader, metaphorical conceit. Additional nuance comes from Raheela planning to use Lena as an incubator for a clone of Raheela. Salim explains he’s doing this to give his mom the opportunity she sacrificed to raise him. That means Raheela actually wants what Ria and Lena have—options. But to get that for herself, she’s willing to sacrifice the futures of the younger women. Going back to the broader conceit, this becomes emblematic of the way that older generations have power and often use that power to exploit next generations. An especially hot topic in the politics of the early-21st century.
So the final showdown between Ria and Raheela represents Lena’s path. Which is supposed to make the viewer think about their own path. But there’s a caveat. It’s not like Lena goes right back to being an artist and succeeds. She’s still not sure what she wants to do. But she’s giving herself the time to figure it out, on her own terms. Maybe she will just want to get a job, meet someone, get married, start a family. The difference is that it’s on her terms, not “Raheela’s”. She wouldn’t be tricked or forced onto that path.
The end of Polite Society is essentially telling the audience that it’s okay to search. You don’t have to pursue a dream when your interest in it disappears. That’s not a betrayal of yourself or your peers or the people who look up to you. Likewise, the next thing you do doesn’t have to be a total capitulation to what polite society expects of you.
What we learn from Ria:
Ria is desperate to save Lena. But it’s not purely out of altruism. Part of Ria’s motivation is that if Lena gives up on being an artist, Ria feels like that means she’ll have to give up on her own aspirations. Which is what makes Raheela such an antagonist: Raheela is exactly who and what Ria fears becoming. And if Lena falls under Raheela’s spell, that means that Ria could, one day, eventually, do the same.
But there’s saving your sister because you think she needs you. And there’s controlling your sister because you can’t deal with your own insecurities. And Ria was, for most of Polite Society, doing the latter. Which is why Lena and everyone else was so upset with her. Even if Ria ended up being right, it doesn’t justify her initial behavior. We can put pressures and expectations on friends and family that they don’t deserve. So it’s good to be able to step back and recognize when we’re acting out due to fear and a lack of control.
For a majority of Polite Society, we’re seeing a Ria who is fearful because Lena’s indecision about pursuing art creates doubt in Ria about her own goals. So she compensates. And overcompensates. To the point of almost ruining everything. It’s only after she and Lena begin to come to terms with one another, having had some open conversations with one another, that Ria’s able to confidently and competently execute her jumping fury kick for the first time. It’s a byproduct of her confidence and maturing through experience.
The closing meal allows us to see the sisters fully reunited but different than before. Both have grown and let go of baggage. What lies ahead is unknown. It won’t be perfect. They won’t be perfect. But they have a little more trust in themselves. And each other. That will go a long way in letting them walk their own paths rather than giving in to what others want. Especially polite society.
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