‘Inspector Rishi’ Recap & Ending Explained: What Was Kaanagar Ritual’s Purpose?

Amazon Prime Video has had several shows that talk about deities and nature conservation. Richie Mehta’s Poacher was a game changer, and two years ago, Suzhal: The Vortex was a murder mystery surrounded by elements of divinity with a connection with nature. Created by Nandhini J.S., Inspector Rishi is a murder investigation tale coupled with the local tales of mythical creatures focusing on the fear created about them. The ten-episode show extensively talks about the small town of Thaenkaadu, which was surrounded by vast forests.


Spoilers Ahead 

What Were The Kinds Of Murders Taking Place?

Inspector Rishi began with an incident that occurred twenty years ago. A local tribe conducted a ritual for their deity and killed themselves in a pyre of fire they created. There was no explanation given for these mass suicides, but they set things in motion for Thaenkaadu, a town surrounded by vast forests that host countless vegetation and animals. 


Two decades later, wildlife photographer Robert was found dead inside the forest in a peculiar manner. He seemingly had a heart attack, but his dead body was covered by countless threads of web hung from a tree. The investigation team, which included local police and the forest guards, was perplexed by the modus operandi adopted by the killer. An investigation into Robert’s death brought to light the death of a local truck driver named Bala a few years ago, who died of the impact caused by a truck accident, yet his body was found covered in similar web. Robert’s death was followed by the murders of Rathinam, owner of a tea company, and Ekambaran, who owned a construction company. Back-to-back murders put the police and the forest guard on alert, as several eyewitnesses claimed to have seen “Vanaratchi,” a goddess who fiercely protects the forest. The police and the forest guard were looking for the actual culprits and refused to be carried away by the local folk tale about the goddess and her wrath. 

The investigation team was quick to find out that all the cameras attached to the trees were broken, with little to no footage of the movements before the murder. They only managed to capture a tiny bit of footage of a woman walking down a tree upside down in a ghostly manner. The investigation team was also made aware of the insect that made webs all around the body. “Vanaratchi” was also spotted by forest guard Selvi, who was with her colleague Kathy. The former was adamant about what she witnessed, but Kathy was not sure. 


Who Was Inspector Rishi?

Inspector Rishi was the investigation officer assigned to take over the case of the murders that occurred at Thaenkaad Forest. Rishi was inflicted with monocular vision after a bullet hit his eye. Rishi had a tragic past that involved his fiancée, Viji, who died in the shootout that made him blind in one eye. Even since the tragic incident, Rishi has kept hallucinating Viji’s presence around him. Rishi had a troubled relationship with Viji after their engagement. As the investigation progressed, Rishi formed a good camaraderie with the forest officials, Sathya Nambeesan and Kathy, who were aiding him in every way to get to the bottom of the case at hand.

Who Was Helping Rishi With The Investigation?

Rishi was joined by Chitra and Ayyanar from the local police, who were initially unhappy with him. As the case progressed, Ayyanar and Chitra soon came to be on good terms with Rishi, as all of them were on the right track regarding the investigation. They cracked that the presence of a poaching ring could be the reason behind the murders, but they were yet to find out who the actual culprit was who terrorized the entire village in the name of “Vanaratchi.”


Chitra was gay, and she had a hard time being herself in front of her family and colleagues. Her brief relationship with the woman she loved ended abruptly as the latter’s family found out about her orientation and got her married to a man. Chitra was back to being alone, engrossed in work. Ayyanar, on the other hand, was hanging between his conservative parents and his ayurvedic doctor wife, Yamuna, who was being accused of having a cursed horoscope that caused his grandmother’s death. Yamuna and Ayyanar eloped, but she was thrown out of her husband’s home, with them citing the above reason. Ever since she moved back to work at her father’s clinic, Ayyanar has been trying hard to find a middle ground. Yamuna refused to have any contact with him because of the humiliation she faced and his refusal to stand by her.

What Was Sathya And Kathy’s History?

Sathya was the son of a former forest guard, which encouraged him to take up the job as well. Sathya was attached to nature and worked tirelessly towards saving it. He and his colleague, Irfan, enjoyed working with nature and were at the forefront as the murder investigation was going on. Since the scene of the crime was in a forest, their knowledge of the forest made it easy for them to help Rishi and his team. Kathy, on the other hand, was an orphan raised in a local orphanage. She adored the nun at church who raised her. She was trying to help Rishi with the investigation when she was caught by “Vanaratchi.” Rishi saved her, but Kathy soon turned into a believer in folklore, as she claimed to have seen the entity from close quarters. 


Who Was The First Suspect?

The investigation into Rathinam’s death led them to his family’s plan to carry out a religious ritual to ward off “Vanaratchi.” The team learned Rathinam had burned down a “Vanaratchi” doll draped in red cloth. The police were quick to approach Mangai, who ran a craft store in town and had dolls modeled around the said forest spirit. The police also found a costume for “Vanaratchi” at her home, which led to her arrest. Mangai claimed to have been a part of a dance drama based on “Vanaratchi” that explained her having the costume, but the police were not willing to hear her out. Mangai was the daughter of the local village head, and she had a troubled relationship with her parents. She refused to live with them and lived off the money she earned from the arts and crafts store. Mangai was soon acquitted based on the lack of evidence against her. 

Why Were The Murders Happening?

Rishi, his team, and the forest officials were close to finding out why the murders took place. As Rishi began to investigate the truck company Bala worked with, his wife’s suspicious movements upon hearing this news helped them unearth a poacher’s ring that trafficked elephant tusks and tiger skins. Further interrogation of the truck drivers and local tourist guides led the police to gather information about Sekar, the leader of the poacher gang. Rathinam’s brother Thangarasu was also involved in this ring, which made the investigation team wonder if Sekar and his men had intelligently committed the murders and created a fear about “Vanaratchi” to keep people and the local investigation agencies at bay. These major arrests had repercussions, as Sathya and Irfan were kidnapped for carrying out a crackdown on poachers. The hostage saga ended tragically, as Irfan was killed while Sathya barely managed to escape thanks to Rishi and his team. 


Sekar had escaped but was later found dead in the cave he was hiding in, and the MO was the same. This put the police’s theory of the poachers’ involvement on the backfoot. The police were wondering if the murders were taking place because of the harm caused by the victims to the forest. This would again reinforce the theory of the presence of the entity “Vanaratchi,” or that someone dressed as her was being a vigilante.

Did Kathy And Rishi Fall In Love?

Kathy and Rishi did fall in love, albeit slowly. He found solace in conversing with her. Her presence made him forget Viji, and the visions of his ex-fiancé slowly disappeared. Kathy could understand his predicament and chose to be with him despite his harsh past. During the investigations, Rishi spotted “Vanaratchi” outside the guest house where he was put up and followed the entity to a tree trunk. Rishi witnessed “Vanaratchi” from close quarters, and he was not afraid. 


What Was The Purpose Of The Kaanagar Ritual?

As Rishi, Chitra, Ayyanar, and Sathya headed to the cave where Sekar died, they came across a large ditch that was filled with ash and bones. The team was made aware of the Kaanagar tribe of the Thaenkaadu forest, which refused to move away from their homeland. The tribe was close to nature and the animals living in it and wasn’t willing to give up their homeland for the sake of commercial development. The government had begun to arrest them for crime they never committed, which forced the entire village to conduct a ritual inside the cave followed by mass suicide, which could be connected to the prologue of the show. The mass suicide created an uproar, which put an end to the mining prospects in that area. The men and women of the forest sacrificed themselves for the protection of the forest and other living beings in it.

What Was The Breakthrough Rishi And The Team Made?

Rishi, Chitra, and Ayyanar were quick to find out the culprit was with them, hiding in plain sight, misleading the investigation team. Rishi was informed that the presence of pheromones made the insects form a web around the dead body. The pheromones were sprayed on the mortal remains for the insect to easily carry out their activity. These two breakthroughs helped Rishi come close to the culprit’s murderers, yet he never had any evidence to prove his claims. Yamuna and Ayyanar had reconciled as she found out the Kaanagar tribe was aware of heart attack-inducing herbs that could never be traced in an autopsy. This indicated that not everyone from the Kaanagar tribe died during the ritualistic suicide. Some were alive, grew up in this town, and went on a murder spree to protect their forest. 


Who Were The Real Culprits?

Rishi’s detailed investigation led him to Sathya, Kathy, Mangai, Thulasi, and several others who were orphans of the Kaanagar tribespeople who walked away from the ritualistic sacrifice. These kids were moved to an orphanage. The head of the establishment swore to keep the parentage of the children a secret. These children were adopted by families from around the town, including Mangai. Sathya, then a teenager, was adopted by the forest guard. Sathya, Kathy and several others gathered in Thaenkaad when they learnt that the current DFO was planning to restart the mining project that would endanger their forest. The gang took it upon themselves to eliminate those who were causing harm to the forest and the animals. The values of their parents never left them, which caused the team to take extreme steps. They planned to reignite the fear of the spiritual entity that would keep many miscreants away from the forest.

After five murder, including the current DFO, Sathya and his team’s next target was the mine workers. Rishi became aware of the plan and tried to stop them, but to no avail. Rishi advised them not to kill the innocent laborers, as they had families to tend to. Killing them would be unfair, and Sathya and everyone could not avoid jail time after this incident. Sathya refused to hear him out because of his loyalty to the people who were with him from the start of the mission. 


Rishi, Chitra, and Ayyanar tried to stop Sathya and his team from carrying out the explosion in the mine, which was their final act of revolution to save their forest from being exploited. The explosion killed Sathya, but he died a martyr. His tribe would be proud of his sacrifice. Meanwhile, Kathy and the rest of the team were arrested for endangering miners and their role in five murders in town. The arrest was inevitable, and Kathy and other members of the tribe would have to spend the rest of their lives in prison. Rishi felt cheated, but he was willing to move on. Yet he wondered if Kathy loved him or just pretended to get closer to get access to the case files. Sathya and Kathy were successful in misleading the investigation but were caught nonetheless. 

Was Vanaratchi Real Or Imaginary?

The first season of Inspector Rishi ended with Rishi, along with Chitra and Ayyanar, coming to terms with the motive behind the murder. They found closure, and the group was quick to point out that Bala’s death happened long before Sathya moved to the town. This could have many interpretations; either Bala’s death was indeed an accident or “Vanaratchi” exists, and the entity was responsible for his nightmares and eventual death. Rishi wondered if the Kaanagar tribe’s sacrificial ritual was carried out to invoke the “Vanaratchi” and not to prove a point to the other authorities about their undying love for the forest. Rishi had closely witnessed “Vanaratchi,” and he vividly remembered it to have monstrous features that neither looked like Mangai nor Thulasi. “Vanaratchi” was probably real, and it existed to prevent her forest from being exploited, and she might further create havoc for it to survive. 


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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