‘World’s Best’ Ending, Explained: Does Prem Give Up On His Rapping Ambitions?


When we decided that we were not fond of the movie World’s Best, we wondered why an Indian family was at the center of it. We realized that it had something to do with the Asian community’s stereotypical competitiveness. It makes sense that an Indian child is being pushed to be the “best” or is inspired by the best,” while it conveniently ties to emotional trauma, something that would have needed a better sketching out of a storyline for a white family. We don’t mind the stereotype, but we do mind the lack of effort that World’s Best has placed into the development of the plot. Either way, here is a recap of it.

Spoilers Alert

Why Does Prem Want To Be A Rapper?

World’s Best starts off with Prem having a dream where he emerges as the hero of a math quiz and as the main character of a movie, but it is all dashed to bits the moment someone says that it is an uncool hobby. That is the dream equivalent of a reality check, and Prem instantly wakes up. He and his mother, Priya, have a system where Prem’s studies are the center of their lives. Junk food in the house is a strict no-no, in favor of “brain food”. We suppose these efforts are paying off since Prem is ahead of his peers and has already started taking classes in high school. His teacher, Mrs. Sage, wants their class to compete in the mathlympics, which they have historically always lost. While the class has no hopes pinned on the competition, winning would be beneficial since the team’s victory would ensure that the entire class gets an A in the subject. Prem looks determined to win, but one assignment from his teacher throws his life into disarray. If we ever thought that people buying an inordinate number of fruits was the biggest bane of math problems, imagine a teacher asking you to describe yourself through a math equation. Which moody high schooler is going to take this philosophical question seriously?

That night, Prem asks Priya to tell him more about his father. It is evident that Priya finds it painful to talk about Suresh, indicating that she has never really gotten over his death. We get the impression that she has always been competitive, and she has just used her career and her son’s studies to escape from the grief of her husband’s loss. But when Prem pushes her to tell him about his father, she is unable to put off the topic, especially when he pointedly asks about the day a picture (of Priya and Suresh) on their shelf was taken. Priya gives in and tells him the story of when she first met Suresh. She had just broken up with her boyfriend, Doug, and her girlfriends had dragged her out to have some fun. She had met Suresh when he tried to approach her, but Priya had turned him down rather bluntly. It didn’t matter that he performed in the venue as the place’s best emcee because Priya ended up missing the performance as she was talking to her ex. However, when she was leaving, she found Suresh talking to others, sharing his craft with them, and that caught her attention like nothing else had. They had started dating from then on, and life had brought them so far. Priya talks at length about Suresh’s poetic abilities and how he used to come up with some of the best lines, one of which was Prem’s own motto that “the world’s best never rests.” 

This revelation about his father gets Prem thinking. He was five years old when he lost his father, so he did not remember much about him. However, as he started growing older and tried to find his own identity in school and in life, these facts about his dad were a lightbulb moment for him. Prem’s best friend, Jerome, has ditched him for a “cooler” group of people who are actually awful in reality. On the other hand, Prem is also feeling very out of place between a group of people much older than him. Amidst all this, knowing that his father was one of the best rappers ever, motivates Prem to connect with his cooler genes. That night, Prem has a vision of his father for the first time, and the two of them make up their own rap and dance routine to perform. Whatever we may say about the story of World’s Best, the raps and songs are fantastic.

The next day, Prem registers his name as the world’s best emcee in the upcoming school talent fest. Of course, his bullies, who have formed their own band called “Liquid Smoke,” waste no time making fun of him. They push him to perform a rap, and when he fails to do so, they declare that all his achievements in life can only be bookish. Lucky for Prem, two of his high school friends, Mercedes and Gabe, rescue him and drive him away in a cool exit that makes up for his earlier humiliation. Mercedes and Gabe are not mathletes like Prem, but they are good people who need to work hard for Mrs. Sage’s class so that they can use these grades for their future endeavors. Prem is hesitant to talk to them about his father or even admit that he likes math, but he eventually opens up, at least, on one front.

The two of them are impressed by Suresh’s music that Prem found in his belongings, and from then on, Prem starts exploring his ability and connection to hip-hop a lot more. Math takes a backseat to Prem’s new passion, but it all gets out of hand one day. Rapping has not brought Prem any new friends since it is something he is still exploring in his imagination with his father. One particular day in the cafeteria, when Prem was lost in his own thoughts about his father, some of his bullies took the chance to steal Suresh’s notebook from him. When Prem becomes aware of it and tries to get it back, they bully him further, with Jerome joining in. Claire helps him get his notebook back, but Prem is unkind to her. Seeing this, Mr. Oh (Prem’s teacher) calls his mother to discuss his behavior. That is when the secrets come tumbling out of the closet, and Priya makes it clear that she wants Prem to only focus on his studies. A disgruntled Prem goes to the bar where his father used to work, but that move backfires when he discovers that Suresh wasn’t a world-famous emcee but a moderately good bartender. His father was not as cool as he had thought, and that was the biggest blow for Prem. Disappointed, he still tries to audition for the talent hunt, but when his bullies don’t back off, Prem falls off the stage, trying to punch one of them.

‘World’s Best’ Ending, Explained: Does Prem Give Up On His Rapping Ambitions?

The visions that Prem is having of his father are his own self-revelations, his inner voice of conscience, that are guiding him on the wiser route. Suresh tells him that night that his greatest victory was his son and his wife, and he wouldn’t trade that for anything. Realizing that he needs to be more true to himself, Prem returns his focus to mathematics and the upcoming competition. He makes up with Jerome when the latter is excluded from Liquid Smoke in the final performance. Prem even apologizes to Claire, and they become good friends going forward. But he still has his mother to make up with.

Prem drops off the box of his father’s belongings at her door, and when Priya goes through Suresh’s notebook, it is as if she has found an outlet for her grief. She realizes that all Suresh ever wanted was for Priya and Prem to be happy by finding their own way, and that would be the biggest honor to his memory. Understanding how her grief was creating unnecessary boundaries for Prem, Priya finally lets up on her restrictions. At the end of World’s Best, Prem goes for his mathlympics competition, and though they don’t place first, it is enough celebration that they score third place. This is the first victory of its kind, and going forward, they may even win better next year. When Prem steps out of place, he finds a group of people practicing their raps, and he joins them while Priya looks on fondly.

Final Thoughts

World’s Best should have just been an album. Additionally, we are not sure how we feel about stories where the children have to take on the burden of moving on from their, grief for themselves and their parents. But this is probably a discussion for another day. All we can say about World’s Best is that it could have been better. While not the worst thing out there, it wasn’t that good either. We truly wish our after-work weekday had been spent better.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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