Murder mysteries are supposed to intrigue the audience and make people question their everyday life. Most times, the story follows along the lines of ‘truth is stranger than fiction.’ In this case, Sujoy Ghosh’s Jaane Jaan does not allow you to tell the truth and the lies apart. This Netflix original introduces us to the cold, hilly town of Kalimpong, where a single mother lives a peaceful life until a man from her past shows up. This article will take you through the nuances of the story and help you understand what Jaane Jaan‘s ending means.
Who is ‘The Teacher’?
Jaane Jaan begins with Naren, who is fondly known as the ‘Teacher,’ having a nightmare about him committing suicide, but he wakes up from it all of a sudden. We get to see the recluse ‘Teacher’ of the town, a mathematics genius who teaches at a local school, and everyone respects him. Since the story is set in a small town, teachers like him are revered for educating the younger generation. Naren is good at his job, apart from his lack of social skills.
Naren has had a crush on the single mother, Maya D’Souza, ever since she moved in next door. He is unable to convey his feelings because of his introverted nature, but he makes sure to visit her small restaurant, ‘Tiffin,’ to purchase his lunch order every day. Naren’s reclusiveness is not explored in Jaane Jaan film, but it is characters like him that end up becoming catalysts that take the narrative forward. The story is predictable, which helps us understand that ‘the Teacher’ will be a great asset going forward.
Who is Maya D’Souza?
Maya D’Souza is the single mother of a 15-year-old daughter, Tara. They have been living in this town for almost two decades, and she has established a restaurant. Maya’s peaceful life hides the truth about her troubled past. We understand from her interactions that Maya has worked hard to blend with this place and the people here so much that she has learned the local language as well. It is implied that she chose this life for herself and her daughter.
Ajit Mhatre, a police officer with the Mumbai Police, walks into her restaurant only to unsettle her. It is revealed that Ajit is her husband, and the sight of him sends her into a frenzy, which proves that this man put her through a lot of abuse and trauma. That may have made her leave the city in the hope of starting afresh in this border town. Maya probably does not want him around because she is sure he is back to settle the score after she left him behind in the city of Mumbai years ago. Her memories as a bar dancer and Ajit making money from her profession are trigger points. We feel she is threatened by his presence and will feel the same till he leaves the town for good. Ajit comes by her apartment with a promise to make things right. It is implied from her reaction that the man was involved in many illegal activities outside of his job as a police constable.
Ajit shows his true color when he puts forward his intention of selling his daughter and making money off of her. Out of pure rage, Tara initially hits him with a heater, and as the scuffle escalates, Maya ends up strangulating him with the heater cable. Maya did not intend to kill, but now that Ajit is dead, she has two options: either to inform the police or hide his body in such a manner that no one in the town would suspect his absence. Maya is dazed and confused at this point because she has never committed any crime in the past. It only makes sense for her to remain an upright citizen who stays away from trouble. But this time, she cannot avoid trouble.
What are the repercussions of this murder?
‘The Teacher’ is a solution to her problem because he thinks this is the only way he can be useful to a woman he likes a lot. He may not be a good-looking man, but he does not intend to hurt her. He offers to dispose of the dead body in a manner that will be known only to him. He probably does not intend to make her an accomplice. His devotion and love are such that he does not want Maya or Tara to be harmed.
Things seemed normal the next day until Karan Anand of the Mumbai police reached the town to look for Ajit. Ajit was supposedly a money swindler and had ended up on the most wanted list. Karan reaches this small town in the hope of arresting Ajit, but he finds himself in a bizarre scenario where he is unable to locate the man. Karan was expecting this case to get closed rather quickly, but on reaching Kalimpong, he thinks he may have been dragged into what might be the murder of Ajit. The suspect is Ajit’s estranged wife, Maya. Karan has every right to suspect her because she is the only point of contact for Ajit in this town. Karan turned out to be a lot smarter than anyone expected because, behind that cheeky person that he is, the man is serious about wanting to know where Ajit disappeared.
Karan also happens to know the ‘Teacher,’ as they were college friends. He is also aware of the fact that Naren is a mathematical genius. Karan tries to inquire from Naren about Maya and her daily routine, but the man makes him believe that he doesn’t know much about her. Ajit’s charred body is found, and the DNA tests confirm his identity. Karan wants to know the killer and the motive behind the brutal murder.
The story takes a Drishyam route here; when the police officer is on his quest to nab the person he thinks killed Ajit. Karan becomes obsessed with Maya and is enamored by her beauty, much to Naren’s chagrin. Karan’s attraction is leaning towards lust, while Naren genuinely loves her for who she is. She is repeatedly questioned about the night Ajit was murdered, and she responds confidently about the evening she spent with her daughter at a movie and a karaoke bar. She seems to have a strong alibi; meanwhile, Maya is distressed about how Naren managed to get rid of the body. There is no surety if the alibi she spoke about happened in real life or if it was discussed with Naren way before the interrogation.
Karan repeatedly meets up with Maya in the hope she will get mixed up about her alibis. Karan’s obsession borderline starts mirroring what Naren does as well. The difference would be that Naren remains quiet about his love while Karan pursues her in the name of his investigation. Maya is unphased by this scrutiny because of her past profession. This is why she does not trust any man who showers her with a lot of attention. Somehow, she realizes Naren is not doing that, which makes her trust him completely.
Why did Naren the ‘Teacher’ admit to the murder?
Karan believes that Naren may be involved in the murder when Maya’s staff let him know that ‘the Teacher’ always visited their restaurant to see her under the guise of buying lunch. This statement made by the staff proved that the ‘Teacher’ loved Maya, and he may have helped her to bury the body out of pure devotion. Karan’s conclusion may be right, but we believe the entire narrative is about to be twisted to suit Naren and save Maya. Naren goes ahead and surrenders himself to the police. The ‘Teacher’ probably knew Karan would not leave this town without finding out who killed Ajit. The cycle would go on even though there would never be concrete proof to back Karan’s claims.
Naren’s confessions come at a time when Karan is indeed looking for closure. He reveals that he met and lured Ajit on the 10th, strangulated the man near the monastery, and burned his body to avoid it being recognized. Naren claims to be Maya’s bodyguard, who lets him know everything through a tiny hole in the wall they shared as neighbors. He also confesses that his love and obsession for her made him take this drastic step. His fixation on her made him give up on the decent life that he led in this small town. Karan assumes from his confession that Naren is a loner and a mental health patient who imagined half the incidents involving his conversation with Maya. The plot hole is that Karan is willing to believe Naren’s interactions with Maya were delusional. This is corroborated by Maya, who claims that she always shared everything with her daughter. Karan is also willing to believe Naren’s words when he claims that he killed Ajit to protect Maya.
Naren’s reasoning seems way too weak, but since Karan wanted to close the case, Naren had to be put behind bars. It is revealed that Ajit was indeed murdered on the 9th, but to save Maya and Tara from jail time, Naren recreated the murder to suit the police’s narrative and invented evidence that will point towards the fact that Ajit was murdered on the 10th by Naren. To corroborate the evidence gathered, Naren picked up a random homeless man who partially looked like Ajit, made him follow the trail he had planned, and ultimately killed him.
The DNA found in the room initially matched with the dead body, which allowed Karan and the local police to believe that it was Ajit who had died on the 10th. Naren was probably lucky that no trail could lead the police to believe that a homeless man was killed. Since Naren had already committed the murder, he did not hesitate while confessing to the crime. This twisted murder case also reveals that maybe Maya’s alibis were right, as she was unaware of the chain of events that occurred on the 10th involving Naren.
Jaane Jaan ends with Maya visiting Naren and asking him about his reasons for helping her. He claims that he saved her life once by knocking on his door while he was minutes away from committing suicide. One knock allowed him to work on his lifelong dream, which is to solve complex mathematical problems. His loner life brought out the worst in him. With Maya around, it might have given him a reason to live and given him hope that she would one day accept him. Maya is happy to be back with her daughter, safe and away from the life of trouble she led years ago.
We could expand on another theory involving Naren’s admission of guilt. Maya may have manipulated the next-door neighbor into helping her get rid of the body. Since she knew that Naren loved her, Maya took advantage of the fact that he would go miles to save her life. She set up an elaborate trap, knowing her husband, Ajit, would one day show up. Maya seems like a smart woman who ran away from Mumbai and remained AWOL for fifteen years. This lived experience allowed her to make Naren her loyal ally. ‘Helpless Women’ was never a troupe used by Sujoy Ghosh in his movies. All the female characters chart their own paths to save themselves. Maya did the same to safeguard her life.
Jaane Jaan is a tale of a murder and an admission of the crime in the most convoluted manner. The theory is only presented to justify the killer’s action. We are guessing this hypothesis makes more sense than the actual screenplay, which remained a bewildering tale till the end.