‘Cuttputli’ Ending, Explained: Who Was The Serial Killer? Why Did He Murder Teenage School Girls?


“Cuttputli,” starring Akshay Kumar and Rakul Preet Singh, is a film about a sub-inspector, Arjan Sethi, and how he managed to unravel the mystery of a serial killer who targeted teenage schoolgirls and left decapitated doll heads as their signature. Arjan had been obsessively studying the psychology of serial killers, and the case provided him with the opportunity to put his knowledge into use. While his theories were rejected initially due to his inexperience, he ultimately managed to tackle the case. “Cuttputli” is a stereotypical Bollywood film with oddly placed humor, a hip dance sequence, and a masculine hero figure who single-handedly solves the case.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Cuttputli’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

Arjan Sethi was the son of a police officer. From a young age, he was drawn to the psychology of serial killers. His father often helped him understand the cases better with his knowledge. After graduating in commerce, he pursued a diploma in criminal psychology and studied the cases of serial killing for seven years to write the script of a film. He met several directors but mostly faced rejection. He was determined to make the film his way and was not ready to compromise with the script. His brother-in-law was posted in Kasauli, and Arjan went to visit them to celebrate Rakhi. His sister convinced him to apply for a police post. His father had died on duty; therefore, family members were offered posts on compensatory grounds. After several failed attempts at making a film, he agreed to become a policeman. He passed the written and practical tests and joined the Kasauli police station as a sub-inspector.

After joining the station, Arjan came across a case that interested him. A teenage schoolgirl went missing, and the kidnapper left a gift box that contained a severed head of a doll. The SHO, Gudia Parmar, deduced it was an abduction case, but Arjan knew it was a lot more than that. He tried to convince his brother-in-law, Narinder, to allow him to be a part of the case, but he advised him to not cross his lines and to play it safe. When Arjan looked at the pictures of the doll, he recognized a similarity. The doll’s face was curved exactly like the teenage girl whose body was found in Parwanoo. The next day, he tried to explain the case to the SHO and claimed it to be the work of a serial killer. She did not agree with Arjan’s theory because a gift box was not found in the Parwanoo case. To make his case stronger, he drove to the Parwanoo police station and enquired about the gift box. He went asking about it around the school premise, and a guard brought him the box, stating that he found it the day the girl went missing. The post-mortem reports of the two dead bodies were strikingly similar. The DSP insulted Gudio Parmer for failing to study the case efficiently and appreciated Arjan for his efforts. The case is now to be studied as serial killing.

As the police investigate the cases, the audience is introduced to a math teacher at a nearby school. The man was a child molester who used his student’s academic weakness to get sexual favors. Naturally, he seems like a potential serial killer, though that seems too easy to be true.

Who Was Purushottam Tomar?

Purushottam Tomar was a math teacher at a Kasauli school where Arjan’s niece, Payal, had recently enrolled. He used to physically punish the students who failed to solve math problems and blackmailed them into using them for his advantage. He did not allow the student to leave after the class ended and locked the doors to conceal his horrific intentions. He attempted to do the same with Payal, but Arjan reached the school at the right time with the police force. When a third victim was kidnapped, Arjan learned that she boarded an auto alone and that the auto had a particular symbol behind it. He spotted the auto when they discovered the girl’s body. Arjan chased the driver down and tortured him to spill out his motive. The auto driver explained that he was not the one involved in the murders; he was simply paid by a man to provide him with information when a schoolgirl boarded his auto alone. It turns out that the man he tipped was Purushottam Tomar. After searching Tomar’s house, they found the victim’s bag and even the gift box with the severed doll head. The police reached the school and found him with Payal. He was tortured by the police and had to be hospitalized.

Though Purushottam denied being the serial killer, he said that he did plan to drug the girl and take advantage of her, which was why he brought her to his house, but she had seen him add medication to her drink and escaped. Arjan refused to believe it, and the police were sure that he was the serial killer. Arjan celebrated Payal’s birthday, but he was soon called to the hospital. Purushottam was threatening the police with a hostage. He managed to get hold of the SHO and promised to shoot her if the police fired at him. He knew that the police were building a case against him, but he considered himself innocent. As he got inside the elevator with the SHO, there was a gunshot. The elevator dinged open, and Purushottam was found dead. Arjan was hiding in the elevator, and he managed to overpower Tomar and save the SHO. While the police were taking care of Purushottam, another murder took place, and this time it was Payal.

‘Cuttputli’ Ending Explained: Who Was The Serial Killer? Why Did He Murder Teenage School Girls?

Payal’s murder indicated that the serial killer was still lurking in the hills. Arjan and his family were shaken by the turn of events. In a way, the killer was challenging the police by targeting the daughter of a policeman. Even after searching for two days (that was usually the period after which the bodies were discovered), Payal was nowhere to be found. Arjan suddenly noticed a blood-stained piece of plastic sticking out of the trunk of their car. He opened the trunk and found Payal’s body wrapped in a plastic bag, and her face was curved just like the other victims. Arjan struggled to disclose the truth to his family, though he eventually had to, and it left them completely broken.

Payal’s murder motivated Arjan to find the truth even though he was suspended from his duty for firing within the school premises. It was while spending time with his lover, Divya, and her niece that he discovered that a hearing aid could record sound. He ran to the hospital and went through the belongings of a victim who used a hearing aid. Apart from her screams, she recorded a piano piece that Arjan played at the local radio station to gather more information about it. A caller informed him that she had heard the music at her school, APS Parmanoo’s annual function. Arjan spoke to the school principal and watched the video recording of the event. As it turned out, the woman who played piano and performed magic had been to every school two days before the student went missing. He managed to convince the SHO this time and she appointed him back to the case.

The police found out about the recent magic show where she performed and that the volunteer was a girl named Aisha Khan. It had been two days since she had performed; therefore, she would strike, and her target would be Aisha (the volunteers were always the targets). Arjan went to the school and informed the entire class, along with Aisha, about the safety measures one must take in case of danger. He asked them to save his mobile number and contact him if necessary. He did not warn Aisha in particular, because it was only by following her that they could catch the killer. But of course, the girl whom they followed after school that day turned out to be Aisha’s twin sister. The police had to rush back to find Aisha, and they tracked her mobile phone.

Arjan and SHO Gudia followed the location of the mobile phone. The killer took Aisha to her house and played a similar piano tune. Aisha remembered that Arjan had asked them to look for an escape route if they were trapped. She asked the killer for her permission to use the washroom. Upon entering the washroom, she noticed that it was covered with the heads of old dolls, dirt, and the walls were painted with blood. She contacted Arjan, and he instructed her to escape through the bathroom window. But the window led to another similar-looking room. Arjan followed her location and entered the house. Every room looked similar, making it all the more difficult for him to find Aisha. But after hearing her scream, he managed to enter the underground room and save her. But the killer escaped. Right after escaping the police, she chose to break into Divya’s house to kill her niece, Iti.

After studying the killer’s house, the police found two passports: one belonged to Agnes Fernando and the other to a boy named Christopher. Arjan recognized the name since he read about a case in which Agnes murdered a schoolgirl, but what was her motive now? While the rest of the police force was looking for the killer, Arjan decided to check on Divya, and he came across the serial killer once again. Using her magic tricks, she managed to escape to an abandoned building with Iti. Arjan was able to find Iti, but Agnes injured him with a knife. While struggling to escape her grasp, Agnes’s wig fell off. The serial killer was not Agnes but her son, Christopher.

He confessed that he had killed all the schoolgirls. His childhood trauma and rejection were the reasons he turned into a serial killer. He suffered from progeria, and his schoolmate made fun of his appearance. His mother brought him from the UK to India, hoping that he would be better accepted here, but it turned out to be just the same. He felt worthless and humiliated, but then he met Sofia. She was his only friend at school. She did not care about his appearance, and he gradually fell in love with her. He confessed his feelings for her one day, and she rejected his proposal, humiliating him once again in front of everyone. Sofia’s rejection devastated him, and he wanted to seek revenge. He wanted to destroy every beautiful face that he came across out of hate and anger. One day, when Sofia visited Christopher’s house to apologize for humiliating him, Agnes brought her in and handed her the gift box that had a severed doll head. His mother supported him when he murdered Sofia, since she believed that was the perfect response for someone who ill-treated her son. His mother took the blame for the murder and was sent to prison. After twelve years, when she returned from prison and was about to bring him home from a mental institute, she met with an accident. After that accident, he used his mother’s appearance to get closer to the girls. Committing the murders made him happy. He felt satisfied after destroying their beautiful faces.

After narrating his story, he went ahead to harm Iti, but Arjan managed to enrage him and tackled him to save her life. He ultimately stabbed Christopher multiple times and avenged the deaths of the schoolgirls. The film ended with Divya, Arjan, and Iti leaving the abandoned building together. The fact that Christopher paused to narrate his entire story before attacking, was extremely clichéd.

“Cuttputli” had multiple flaws in the narrative, especially the fact that he alone had to tackle the serial killer at every point, which was a bit too much. Also, can the police use an underage girl as bait to get hold of a serial killer, risking her life without her knowledge or consent? I am not an expert, but this surely seemed concerning and extremely problematic. Considering how Bollywood releases are sinking at the box office, it was a good decision to release it on the OTT platform.

“Cuttputli” is a 2022 Indian drama thriller film directed by Ranjit Tewari.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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