‘Inspector Rishi’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: Is Vanaratchi Real?


Amazon Prime Video’s latest Indian production, Inspector Rishi, is a horror suspense Tamil series that attempts to combine matters of local folklore with modern crimes. The plot is centered around a recently transferred police officer, Rishi Nandhan, who is given the responsibility of investigating a series of murders occurring in the Thaenkaadu forest near Coimbatore. In a tremendously supernatural twist, the murders are believed to be linked with a ghostly forest spirit known as Vanaratchi—a vengeful protector of the forests. Although Inspector Rishi is quite predictable and not the most conveniently paced, it makes for a fairly entertaining watch simply because of the unusual content.

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Plot Summary: What is the series about?

Inspector Rishi begins twenty years before the present in a small village community residing in the Thaenkaadu forest, some 50 kilometers from Coimbatore, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The specific day on which the scene takes place is an extremely auspicious one for the villagers as they prepare for a holy ritual ceremony to be held at night. The jovial environment is easily noticeable, with children running about excitedly and musical instruments being played throughout the day. As night falls, the villagers flock to a nearby cave and worship the stone figure of a goddess adorned in a traditional red sari. As the ritual ceremony continues, they drink some liquid together, and then the whole scene takes a wildly grim turn as the villagers form human chains and jump into an open fire pit, one after another. The human sacrifice becomes the very first matter of mystery in the show, along with the emergence of a monster-like figure from one of the openings of the cave, with a mostly human body but antlers on its head.

Twenty years later, the region gets a new police inspector in the form of Rishi Nandhan after a gruesome murder is discovered in the forest by the conservation officials. A photographer named Robert had come from a different state to visit and work at the Thaenkaadu forest by himself. However, Robert’s dead body was then discovered in the forest, strung up high on a tree, and completely covered in a cocoon spun by insects. In order to investigate the strange death, a police officer named Rishi Nandhan is sent in from Chennai and made the new inspector at the local police station, much to the displeasure of SI Ayyanar, who had been eyeing the post. Nonetheless, Ayyanar and the other SI, Chitra, assist Rishi in the investigation as they try to find the motive and suspects behind Robert’s murder. While the police case follows legal and logical proceedings, the locals in the village are struck by fear, for they are convinced that the killing is the act of a demon from folklore named Vanaratchi.

The Vanaratchi is a vicious forest spirit in humanoid form but with antlers on its head, and it supposedly hunts human beings to kill them. Over the next few weeks, multiple sightings of the Vanaratchi are reported, as people are attacked by the monster in the forest and also in the vicinity of the village. While some of the victims are able to survive, supposedly because of a piece of metal they were carrying, a few lose their lives as well. All of these bodies are found inside cocoons, just like Robert, and this is also taken as proof of Vanaratchi’s involvement, as the forest insects are also controlled by it. The medical examination of the bodies reveals that they all died from heart failure, and Inspector Rishi firmly believes that there are human beings behind the whole act. As the protagonist investigates the case, he is also revealed to be haunted by some ghosts from his past, quite literally.

Are the murders linked to the poaching network?

As Rishi’s investigation takes shape, the death of a particular truck driver named Bala from a few years ago becomes important. Bala had met with a horrific accident on the road, in which he crashed through the windshield of his truck and was then found dead the next morning, covered completely in a cocoon. For a few days before his death, though, Bala had repeated nightmares and was struck by the fear that the Vanaratchi was coming after him. At present, two other men, both businessmen by profession, are killed, seemingly by the monster itself. A clue at the house of one of the victims—a wooden doll of the Vanaratchi deity—leads the detectives to a certain shopkeeper named Mangai. In the local town, Mangai used to run a shop for trinkets and statuettes, and she was the only one to keep dolls of the monstrous deity. Naturally, the police reach her shop and find a trunk consisting of a Vanaratchi costume, including headgear designed to look like antlers.

Mangai is immediately arrested, but the matter takes a different turn when the monster is seemingly spotted in the forest while the woman is in jail. She always claims to be a dancer who was about to play the lead role in a theater drama on the vicious forest spirit, and the costume at her house is for that very reason. This alibi soon checks out, as the drama group attests to Mangai’s version, and her father also happens to be the head of the village. Ultimately, Mangai has to be let off since there is no concrete evidence against her. On the other side, the possibility of a poaching ring being at the center of this serial killing takes shape. Ayyanar tails the ex-wife of Bala and spots her talking with a man suspected to be a smuggler. When investigated further, a truck full of animal pelts and tusks was found, which confirms that a network of poachers is indeed in the works.

The forest officers, Sathya and Irfan, decide to hide the smuggled goods in a secret spot inside the forest, intending to use it as leverage against the poachers. Surely enough, the poachers soon kidnap Sathya and Irfan and keep them hostage at a hideout. The leader of the criminal gang, Sekar, treats them brutally, to the point of killing Irfan, but Rishi and his men are able to barge into the place and rescue Sathya. Sekar manages to escape, though, and he takes shelter in a cave in the nearby forest. The tools, weapons, and other pieces of evidence found at the smuggling den confirm that the poachers were not linked with the serial killings at all, and Rishi has to admit that his hunch was wrong. But on the other side, Sekar himself is killed in the same way by the Vanaratchi monster.

What had happened in Rishi’s past?

Rishi Nandhan’s character is portrayed as calm and quiet at most times, and it is almost palpable that he carries a load of emotional baggage on his shoulder at all times. He is physically stunted as well, for his left eye is fake, as he lost the original in a nearly fatal shooting incident back in the city. Rishi’s troubled past is intricately linked to his ex-fiancée, Viji, who was a photographer by profession. Viji and Rishi’s romantic relationship budded, and they were inseparable during their best days, which eventually led to the couple getting engaged. However, trouble began to seep into the relationship, for Viji started growing very insecure over Rishi’s commitment, and she wanted him to tell her everything going on in his life.

Rishi could not obviously do so, as he was a police officer investigating some important cases in the state and even had to work undercover a few times. He would obviously have to ignore her calls throughout the day, and this made Viji all the more suspicious. The couple started to have nasty fights, and during one such incident, Viji slapped her fiancé out of anger and frustration. Rishi was understandably hurt by this action, and he immediately called off their relationship. But the woman could not accept such an outcome, and she kept pleading with Rishi to take her back into his life, which the protagonist eventually agreed to as well.

But the relationship that was once marred by these incidents could not really revive, and the fights continued. One fateful night, when Rishi was working undercover at a bar, intending to bring down a criminal gang, Viji kept calling him, and she turned up at the place when he did not respond. While Viji threatened to kill herself if Rishi did not take her back, a massive gunfight broke out at the bar between the police and criminal sides. Realizing that her lover was in serious trouble, Viji ran into the bar and onto the course of a flying bullet, getting shot instead of Rishi. While Viji immediately died, the bullet grazed past Rishi’s left eye, rendering it permanently damaged. Therefore, Rishi still holds on to the memory of Viji, whom he dearly loved, and he keeps seeing the ghost of his ex-fiancée. Over the course of Inspector Rishi, the protagonist develops a romantic bond with forest guard Kathy, and he is finally able to get over the trauma and grief of losing Viji.

Does the Vanaratchi really exist?

During the investigation of Rishi and his colleagues, the Vanaratchi appears to multiple people numerous times, including the protagonist himself. There was even camera footage of the monster climbing down a tree, and it definitely proved that the creature was not a hallucination. But the entire mystery is solved at the very end of Inspector Rishi, after the murder of the District Forest Officer herself. The biggest breakthrough occurs when the medical analyst figures out how the pheromones of a certain tree immediately attract the web-spinning insects very strongly. It was found that the pheromone could be easily gathered in a bottle and then sprayed over the victims’ bodies in order to get the insects to rapidly cover them up inside cocoons. When this lead is further looked into, information about several extracts and discharges from various trees, plants, and animals in the forest is revealed, all of which can be used to kill a human by stopping their heart. Since these extracts and discharges were still known only to the locals around the forest, they did not show up in the toxicology reports, and the murders remained unsolved.

When Rishi finds more proof about such herbal medicines being used, the entire story that comes out is quite astonishing. Twenty years earlier, the people of a local village tribe named Kaanagar had ferociously defended against the government’s order to give up the forested land to a private mining company. But despite their many protests, the nature-loving Kaanagars were framed as poachers and illegal hunters, and their land was about to be taken away from them. As a final attempt to save nature, the entire tribe decided to sacrifice their lives through a ritual, the same that was shown at the very beginning of the series. This method succeeded, for there was much public discussion about such a violent and sad occurrence, and it eventually stopped the mining project completely. However, not every tribe member had killed themselves on that day, and a few young children, led by a teenager, had escaped the place. The village head, meaning Mangai’s father, knew about this incident, but he kept it a secret and ensured that the children were put up for adoption. The teenage boy grew up to become a forest ranger, just like his adopted father, and then heard of a corrupt DFO planning to let the private mine at Thaenkaadu be opened once again. Filled with rage and an immense desire to avenge the deaths of his original tribe, the young man returned to Thaenkaadu and started a plan of his own.

This forest ranger was Sathya himself, and he soon got in touch with each of the remaining Kaanagar children, which included Kathy, Mangai, and a few others. All of them agreed that they must stop all harm done against nature and also instill fear among these people. Therefore, they came up with the idea of using the Vanaratchi figure, and while two of them roamed around wearing full costumes of the monster, the others carefully sprayed pheromones and injected hallucinogens and poisons into their victims’ bodies, thereby ensuring that the insects would wrap them up inside cocoons. Incidentally, all of the victims of the serial killing were tied by one common thread—they had all committed crimes against nature and wanted to harm the forests of Thaenkaadu. The photographer, Robert, with whom the murders began, had been poisoning wild animals to get better pictures of them and was killing them in the process. The final murder of the gang was of the DFO herself, for she had allowed the mine to be reopened. Ultimately, Sathya and his vigilantes attack the coal mine itself, wanting to kill all the workers despite them not technically being responsible.

During Inspector Rishi‘s ending, the titular protagonist figures out a way to use an antidote against the herbal poison and manages to survive. He and his team successfully arrest Kathy and the others, while Sathya is impaled by a metal rod due to the explosion, and is tragically killed. It is mostly confirmed that the Vanaratchi, or at least the one killing people, did not actually exist. However, it is also mentioned that the very first murder, that of truck driver Bala, had not been committed by the group, which means that he was either killed by accident or was indeed haunted by the Vanaratchi monster. While it could be that Bala and the others were affected by their own guilt and were therefore hallucinating the creature, Inspector Rishi does keep a slight possibility open that such a nature-protecting monster might really be lurking somewhere deep in the forest, keeping an eye out for any harmful intruders. The series ends with Rishi seemingly recalling his interaction with the monster, and its face clearly indicates that it could not possibly be a human being. Nonetheless, Inspector Rishi Nandhan chooses not to meddle with the matter any further and drives away, having put the vigilantes behind bars. 

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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