Kaala Paani is a one-of-a-kind survival drama that doesn’t just speak about human lives. The survival of nature and other living beings is also a part of the central plot of the show. People have a superiority complex, which is on full display in the new Netflix India Original. The characters in the show justify their right to live by agreeing to sacrifice Oraka lives and consider their act of martyrdom to be for the greater good.
Kaala Paani does a good job of presenting the hypocrisy of the so-called civilized people who always looked down upon the Oraka way of life and ridiculed their reluctance to be a part of the world outside of their territory. Lt. Governor Admiral Zibran Qadri was in support of the their rights, and many rallied behind his idea of live and let live. From the very beginning of Kaala Paani, the Oraka tribe was presented as a community that was against development, and many locals supported their stance. The tribals tried to sabotage the large water pipeline built by the company ATOM. From the outskirts, this would seem like an act of defiance and aimed at disrupting the lives of other locals and tourists visiting the island for ‘Swaraj Mahostav’. This festival was organized by ATOM to boost the island’s tourism, but the breaking of their pipeline divided the opinion of the people about Oraka.
Days later, Dr. Singh found the epicenter of the water contamination and the role that the pipeline played in supplying the water to different parts of the island. Dr. Singh had to die so that people could come to know their only source of water was highly contaminated. The Oraka tried to cease the water supply to save others and possibly warn the people on the other side about a disease outbreak.
Chiru’s mother, Parvathy, extensively worked with the Oraka tribe, and she had formed a special bond with them. The Oraka were further moving inwards deep into the forest away from their original settlements. On inquiry, the tribes always mentioned that their ancestors were angry, and they could sense that nature was ill. The tribals have been in tune with the forest for centuries, and they are one of the last indigenous communities in the world who still haven’t gotten along with the world outside of their territory. They believed in creating boundaries and only interacted with those who knew their language. The Oraka are based on one of the four tribes still living in the forests of Andaman and Nicobar, isolated out of choice. Unfortunately, Parvathy succumbed to LHF-27 while serving the tribe. Chiru is livid at the Orakas and wanted to prove their role in causing the bacterial outbreak that brought the entire island to a standstill. Chiru confronted Enmae, but the Oraka tribesman was taken into custody by the forest guards and the local police for questioning.
Chiru soon learns of his parentage when the forest officer found him to be in possession of a locket that has a symbol on it. This object is passed on to an Oraka member by anyone in their family. This piece of information was corroborated by Chiru’s grandfather. Chiru learns that he is half Oraka. Many years ago, an Oraka woman was sexually assaulted by a poacher, and Chiru is a product of that crime. Though the biological mother was killed by the elderly members of the tribe for choosing to give birth to a child who was not fully Oraka, she gave away the baby to Parvathy and her husband Unni, a forest officer. Parvathy was on good terms with the Oraka tribe, and they allowed her to keep the child. She showed her gratitude by working tirelessly for them. The symbol found on the locket resembles the shape of the plant ‘Andamania Echnemia’. The symbol was also found on all the barks of trees close to the tribal settlement. Jyotsana and Dr. Ritu were operating from different parts of the island, but their research helped them conclude that the plant and the symbol are of great importance to the Oraka.
Ritu’s investigation revealed that ‘Andamania Echnemia’ has a peptide that could cure LHF-27. She located a place that was supposed to have the plant in abundance, but it turned out the land had been cleared. Jyotsana, meanwhile, came across a Japanese soldier’s diary of the year 1945 that spoke about the ‘Andamania Echnemia’ plant along with its location, which is far away on another remote island. The Japanese branded the Oraka as ‘the chosen ones’ because they had a cure for a deadly disease and saved their fellow Japanese soldier. ‘The chosen ones’ name came from their immunity to withstand a deadly disease, which the viewers believe was another variant of the LHF-27. Eight decades ago, the Oraka were on good terms with the people of civilization. A picture of an Oraka with the Japanese soldier who maintained the journal is proof of that. Over the years, a drastic change in the environment made them a reclusive community who were content with their style of living.
Chiru is remorseful that he’s betrayed his tribe. Dr. Ritu conducts a test on Enmae and finds out that the peptide they are looking for is present in every Oraka tribe member’s body. Oraka ancestors consumed a lot of ‘Andamania Echnemia’ and built immunity against diseases like LHF-27, as outbreaks were frequent in their region. Enmea was willing to give up his life for the trial that could possibly cure the infected patients, but Chiru comes forward and offers himself. His guilty conscience kicked in, and he knew he would be doing the right thing by being a part of the treatment.
Ketan Kamat, the police officer, learns of the word Attavus and connects the term to ATOM’s project of the same name. His investigation takes him to Jenkins Bio Park, where he reveals the spot to be ground zero of the LHF-27 outbreak. The land on which the biopark was built was Oraka’s burial ground. The tribals buried the dead on this spot who were infected with a disease like LHF-27. The Oraka, after the burial, sowed the land with ‘Andamania Echnemia’ seeds to make sure they gave back to the land as much as they took from it for their survival. Planting these seeds secured future generations and protected them from another disease outbreak. The Oraka, centuries ago, did the right thing, unlike other locals who came up with no long-term solutions that could safeguard their health.
The Oraka tribe turned out to be a lot smarter than the rest of the islanders. The only diktat they knew was to survive. The outbreak in the year 2027 pushed them further into the forest. The tribe sternly believed the outbreak happened because their ancestors were angry. This implies that the bacteria from the burial ground had been exposed, and the rains made sure it got mixed with Jenkins Lake. Almost all the characters in Kaala Paani mention that nature has a way of coming back and ruining everything if one messes with it.
ATOM destroyed the island’s one chance of survival by clearing ‘Andamania Echnemia’, which was planted by the Oraka in the hope it could benefit other locals of the land as well. People who berated the Oraka’s style of living now wanted the tribe to offer themselves up for the eradication of the bacteria that caused the LHF-27 outbreak. Even Oraka’s biggest supporter, Lt. Governor Qadri, changed his mind in the name of evolved decision-making and ordered Oraka’s to be put to the test for the sake of humanity.
Back in their habitats, Enmae and Chiru were initially captured by the forest guards. They escape captivity with the help of other Oraka tribesmen as they confront the gun-wielding men. This is one of many resistances that Okara will put up to make sure they are not forced to do anything without their will. A flashback sequence had one of the tribesmen stating that the people on the other side would come for their community eventually. The Oraka tribesman’s words stand true, and only time will tell if they survive this onslaught. If yes, it will be interesting to know which settlement they will move to. Their arc will either end in triumph or it will end in a tragedy.