‘Por Thozhil’ (2023) Ending, Explained: Is Kennedy The Serial Killer?

There have been countless documentaries, television shows, and movies made about serial killers, highlighting the fact that fiction or nonfiction stories on this subject need to be told. Por Thozhil, which means the art of war, seems like a war waged by the police upon a serial killer who is on the loose, and there could be only one winner here. Through this article let us understand the investigation process and how the police officers finally got hold of the culprit.

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Spoilers Ahead


Killings In Trichy

Por Thozhil is set in Trichy in 2010, where two patrolling police officers find the dead body of a woman who has been strangled, and with rope having been used to gag her mouth and tie her hands and legs together. The killer carried out a long process to kill the victim. Initial investigation reveals another woman was killed the same way, which means a serial killer is probably on the loose. The police are not sure yet, since they’re currently basing this theory on the same modus operandi. The police are worried because news of a killer would send the city into a frenzy. To pacify the situation, they request that the Crime Branch in Chennai help with the case so that the local police do not face the heat from the local media and the people of the town.

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Prakash Joins The Crime Branch

Back in Chennai, Prakash joins the Crime Branch as Deputy Superintendent of Police. The man is anxious and agitated because he never thought he would join the police, and he is not sure if he would be able to take the pressure of such a volatile job. Being a part of the Crime Branch would mean handling high-profile cases. To top that, he will be mentored by a high-ranking police officer, Lokanathan, who has a personality that is the opposite of Prakash’s. After a lot of reluctance, Lokanathan agrees to take Prakash under his wing in the hope that he will learn on the job. Lokanathan comes across as a stern cop whose extensive experience in solving crimes has made him good at his job. Prakash joins him on his first case, which happens to be the double murder in Trichy, which could turn into a serial killer investigation. This investigation could be dangerous, but at the same time, it would be an achievement for him to solve his first case.


The Investigation Begins

The duo is joined by Veena, who is assisting Lokanathan. She is a highly educated woman, but she works for the police just to be able to contribute to society. She seems like a sorted person who is aware of what she wants to do with her life. As the investigation process begins, Prakash and Lokanathan leads take them nowhere, one of them being the suspect’s potential employment with a school run by an NGO on the basis of one of the victims being a teacher at the establishment. The crime hits home when one of the local police officer’s daughters becomes a victim, rendering them helpless. This is happening because the killer probably knows the police are after him/her, which makes it rather easy for the culprit to keep the police busy while he carries out more murders.

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A Breakthrough

The team from Chennai is headed toward closing this case. Prakash, Veena, and Lokanathan expected this case would be easy to crack, but they have been proven wrong. Even audiences at this point are frustrated, but the serial killer chase is far from over. Lokanathan asks his team to thoroughly go through case files from 30 to 40 years ago to find out if any murders were reported with the same MO. This could comes across as a potential lead because, given the way the murders are being committed, the culprit seems to have enough knowledge and experience to carry them out in the same way every single time.

Prakash finds similarities in the trauma on the collar bones of the victims’ bodies, which leads him to find out more about noiseless vital strikes. Prakash’s nervousness is finally disappearing as the case gets interesting, and he senses they are getting close to the culprit. He finally understands the responsibility that comes with being a cop, which probably helps him settle into the job. From the library records, he learns of someone named Kennedy, who had issued a book on vital strikes. This is the breakthrough they were looking for. On the other hand, the murders of the same MO that happened in the 1970s had only one investigative officer, John Sebastian. The audience is wondering if Prakash and Lokanathan are chasing two different people.

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In the hope of meeting John, Lokanathan ends up meeting his son, Kennedy, who happens to be a professional photographer. His strange demeanor upon seeing Lokanathan alarms him. Call it Lokanathan’s instinct that he has developed over the years; Kennedy is his prime suspect as well because who better to commit murder and get away with it than a police officer’s son? This is a far-fetched theory, but it is plausible. This is the breakthrough the two of them were looking for because, with no DNA in hand, only past records could help them. This came across as a satisfying scene because there was actual police work done to come to a definite conclusion about the prime suspect.


Is Kennedy The Serial Killer?

With Kennedy now on the police’s radar, they try their level best to prove their suspicions right because Lokanathan, Prakash, and Veena are sure of their theory but it needs evidence to prove their claims. This is because the team had given up on the investigation until Kennedy’s name came up, and they would want to build a case based on this.

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Prakash moves next door to Kennedy to keep an eye on his movements, which makes sense because there is no other way to gather evidence against him. Prakash also witnesses a couple living next door who are constantly arguing, which is visibly affecting the child. This scene was added as a way to foreshadow an upcoming subplot related to Kennedy. Prakash has visited Kennedy’s home twice; once was a break-in, and the second time, he was invited by the man himself. Both times, Prakash had noticed a secret door and was curious to find out what was behind it. It is obvious to conclude that the room stores some incriminating evidence against Kennedy, which is why it seems out of bounds. This scene takes the narrative forward. It turns out Prakash’s doubts are right, and Lokanathan charges into Kennedy’s home only to find images of victims from the 1970s that match the older case files. This proved the audience’s hunch because why else would Kennedy keep a stash of photographs of his victims hidden?

The elderly man reveals that he was a victim of physical and verbal abuse from his police officer father, which severely affected him mentally. This abuse led to him carrying out murders of women in his town, knowing his father would never suspect him. This proves that he committed the crimes out of spite towards his father and wanted the man to fail as a police officer. This case of child abuse proves that people react in different ways to the trauma. Maybe the murders gave Kennedy a sense of control that he did not experience in his home, which was supposed to be his safe space. But a crime is a crime. He gave up on the killing the night his father passed away, and not until recently did he reveal a man who started blackmailing Kennedy because he was a witness to one of his murders in the past. This man forced Kennedy to be his accomplice in carrying out the recent murders in the same MO. At this point, the murder investigation becomes far more convoluted as there is a story within a story, and it turns out Kennedy was not the perpetrator of the murders that happened lately. The current killer probably did not want to get his name dragged into the serial killer case, and the same MO would mean Kennedy would be a prime suspect if ever police caught up to him.

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Por Thozhil Ending Explained: Who Is The Killer?

Kennedy kills himself because he can’t let his son Freddy know the truth about him, for he spent years being a good father to his child. This is the result of his abuse, which turned Kennedy into a monster, but right now, he cannot let his son suffer because of him. Prakash and Lokanathan can only sympathize with Kennedy because they have figured out the killer is someone else, but Kennedy ends up having to sacrifice himself to make sure his son does not learn of his family’s disturbing past. He probably lived with the guilt of the murders, which is why he gave it up for the sake of the new life he started with his son.

The killer turns out to be a teacher at the local NGO, as suspected by Lokanathan and Prakash at the beginning of the investigation. This time they get the lead through a mechanic they had questioned. This is the problem with an investigative thriller if the screenplay is not well crafted to form a straightforward narrative.

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Prakash finally starts using his skills as a police officer to not just locate the killer but also his next victim, who happens to be a local celebrity. It is revealed to the audience that the said killer, whose name was not mentioned in Por Thozhil for some bizarre reason, had an abusive wife whom he killed because he believed she never respected him. The viewers also get a glimpse of something that seems like schizophrenia. This is projected to confirm that this man is mentally unstable. Serial killers such as him live normal lives so that they will never be suspected. Something that Kennedy also pulled off. But unlike Kennedy, this killer is not guilty of his crime because he sees his deceased wife in his victims, a pattern cracked by Lokanathan.

The viewers are not clear on how he did that because there was never a scene to confirm this. It seems far-fetched for the writers to assume that such revelations suddenly come as an epiphany to the investigation officers without any proper backing. It turns out Lokanathan and Prakash were wrong; the killer’s next victim turned out to be Veena. This, again, is an inconclusive breakthrough because the audiences know that Por Thozhil is about to end, and the final piece of the puzzle needs to be found. In a hurry, Prakash was quick to reach the above-mentioned conclusion. An injured Veena is finally rescued by Prakash as he kills the culprit because the man is unstoppable, and he manages to knock out Lokanathan as well. Prakash had to step up because this would seem poetic for someone afraid at the beginning of this case, but now he has gathered strength to not just solve the case but eliminate the man as well.

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Por Thozhil ends with the three of them recovering from their injuries, and Prakash finally confronts the couple living next door to be sensitive towards the child they are raising and understand the deep impact their fights might have on him. He did this because he did not want this kid to turn out to be a damaged adult who might or might not take the path to kill. This is Prakash’s way of making things right.


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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