Netflix’s ‘Aranyak’ is a murder mystery that revolves around two cops, Kasturi Dogra (Raveena Tandon) and Angad Mallik (Parambrata Chatterjee), who are polar opposites but have to work together in order to solve a gruesome murder of a French teenager in the hill station town of Sironah. With Rohan Sippy as the showrunner and Vinay Waikul as the director, the Hindi-language show is a classic small-town whodunnit with a generous dose of unsettling folktales.
Season 1 of the show establishes the lore of the leopard-man or “Nar Tendua” and throws us headfirst into the chaotic circumstances — involving corrupt politicians, drug peddlers, and secret romantic affairs — surrounding Aimee Baptiste’s (Anastasiya Hamolka) murder. We see how the rough-around-the-edges Kasturi initially clashes with but eventually works alongside the city-bred and rule-following Angad; the duo investigates a number of individuals hiding dark secrets. If you were looking for ‘Aranyak’ season 1 recap and ending explainer, you’ve come to the right place. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Aranyak Season 1 Recap
The episode opens with Angad Mallik and his wife Alka witnessing the kidnapping of their son, Maroot, during a school play. Then we shift to a flashback of Aimee Baptiste, who goes to Hotel Bom but ends up getting gravely assaulted. Later, we see Mahadev Dogra, a retired head constable and Kasturi’s father-in-law, explaining the lore of the leopard-man. The creature, an important part of village folklore, is said to come out during the eclipse to feast on blood.
At the police station, Kasturi gets ready for her year-long sabbatical and meets her replacement, the reticent Angad. Immediately, Julie Baptiste, a French tourist, barges into the room and reports her 19-year-old daughter, Aimee, as missing. Elsewhere, minister Jagdamba Dhumal cancels her son Kanti’s parole. It is apparent that Sironah is full of people who are bad news.
We are then introduced to Manhas, a cunning parliamentarian from a royal family, his daughter Nilima, who seems to have anxiety, and his soon-to-be son-in-law, Ravi Parashar. Manhas wishes to cut down the local forests to build a resort, clandestinely drug-friendly, catering to tourists but requires the approval of Jagdamba and District Collector/Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ashok to do so. Later, Mahadev finds Aimee’s body hanging in the forest. The post-mortem report reveals that she was roofied and raped before being killed by asphyxiation.
Kasturi decides not to go on a sabbatical as she wants to investigate Aimee’s murder. Convoluted information is revealed daily, forcing a hesitant Kasturi and a practical Angad to suspect a huge number of people — from cafe owners to big shot ministers — in the small town. Meanwhile, Kasturi’s daughter, Nutan, is secretly dating Bunty, a poor tourist guide.
However, people begin to suspect that the murder is the work of the leopard-man who preys on women; in fact, the half-man half-animal creature killed nine women between 2000 and 2002. Angad refuses to believe in such myths whilst Kasturi is of two minds. Mahadev decides to catch the leopard-man himself, having lost an opportunity to do so during his time as a cop. He is also the only person who has partially seen the creature and bears his neck scars as proof of their encounter.
Julie’s boyfriend and drug dealer Sundar is arrested and later mysteriously killed in court due to claw-like marks on his jugular vein. Kasturi and Angad question Kanti, who is already in jail due to a rape charge. However, reports confirm that he is not the rapist. Angad also suspects Govind, the owner of Cafe Sironah.
In a shocking twist, it is revealed that Aimee is Ravi’s daughter. We see how Aimee forced Bunty to take her to Hotel Bom to talk to Ravi, but ended up interacting with Kanti instead. Then, Manhas’ men kidnap Bunty; they threaten to release Nutan’s nude video but also promise to pay for his dad’s cancer treatment if he confesses to the cops that he’s the rapist and killer. Bunty confesses and is jailed, but Kasturi and Angad believe in his innocence. However, their boss, DSP Bhaati, puts pressure on them to close the case — clearly, he’s being bribed/threatened by Manhas.
As the season progresses, bits and pieces of information are revealed and revised by the townsfolk. Soon, it becomes obvious that the seemingly innocent Gagan has more to hide than the obviously reckless Kanti. The coroner, who examined Aimee and Sundar’s bodies, is exposed as a corrupt man who frequently forges and tampers with medical reports on the orders of people like Manhas.
We also see some dirty local politics, wherein Manhas manipulates DC Ashok and minister Jagdamba by targeting their sons; he does this so that he can build his resort without any hindrance and launch Ravi as a politician. Meanwhile, Rewa begins to suspect Govind since he goes out at night and has a noose with him. On the personal front, Kasturi is locked in a loveless marriage with Hari whilst Angad battles the guilt of losing his son, because of which Alka divorced him. When Angad spots Omi Chawla, the drug dealer who kidnapped his son in the past, at Ravi and Nilima’s wedding, he restarts his investigation into Maroot’s whereabouts.
Aranyak Season 1 Ending: Who Raped Aimee? Who Killed Aimee? Who Hanged Aimee From the Tree?
Towards the end, we see Angad rushing to stop Manhas and Omi from fleeing the country through the Nepal border. Meanwhile, having learned the identity of the leopard-man, Kasturi, Mahadev, and others rush to Jagdamba’s house. Manhas and Omi are stopped and the leopard-man is captured. However, the price paid for the capture of these criminals is heavy. The season ends with visuals of a drug peddler named Rabbit, a valley full of “mystery mushrooms,” and a pond with the reflection of a creature that looks like the real leopard-man.
The harrowing circumstances around Aimee’s death demonstrate the violent nature of several men in the small town. Although it was Kanti who roofied Aimee at Hotel Bom, it was Gagan who actually raped her after Kanti left the room. He committed the heinous act because he was tired of being teased by the womanizing Kanti for being studious and bad at interacting with women — overpowering Aimee gave him a brief ego boost and sense of power. Kasturi in particular is shocked by Gagan’s actions, which goes to show how appearances can be deceptive.
Later, Ravi found Aimee but was forced to leave the premises of Hotel Bom by his father-in-law. Afterward, on Manhas’ orders, his goon Chotu strangled Aimee to death. He and the others then stashed her body in Kanti’s car’s trunk, determined to use the situation to blackmail Jagdamba into doing Manhas’ bidding. Additionally, Aimee’s death ensures that Ravi’s identity as her father does not ruin the political career Manhas envisions for him.
After Kanti reached home, Nandan and Jagdamba checked his car and found Aimee’s body. Then, Nandan took Aimee’s body into the forest and left claw marks on its neck to force people into suspecting the leopard-man. He then hanged her corpse from a tree, where it was found the next day by Mahadev. Thus, we see how the servants of powerful individuals, such as Manhas and Jagdamba, are willing to risk everything for the sake of obedience and loyalty.
Who is the Leopard Man or Nar Tendua in Aranyak?
In the finale, we find out that Nandan, Jagdamba’s loyal servant, and right-hand man, is the leopard-man or “Nar Tendua.” It is Mahadev who discovers this crucial information — his investigation into the noose around Aimee’s neck makes him realize that the style of the knot is one used exclusively by hangmen. He finds out that Nandan is actually Kalidas Mallah, a hangman who executed 16 convicts in Kanpur Central Jail. Nandan arrived in Sironah 19 years ago, when the killings first started. He also killed Sundar to hide his tracks.
After Kasturi warns Jagdamba to stay safe from Nandan until the police arrive, the minister’s servant confesses that he is the leopard-man. Nandan explains how he has been in love with Jagdamba this entire time and was jealous of her late husband, Mahesh. Unable to attain Jagdamba as his lover, Nandan used to take his frustration out on other girls by murdering them using his sharp claw-glove.
Eventually, Nandan attacks Jagdamba when it becomes obvious that she’ll never side with him. However, Kasturi and her fellow cops rescue the bleeding minister and rush her to the hospital. Meanwhile, Mahadev and Govind attack Nandan and hang him upside-down from a tree. It is revealed that Govind was hunting the leopard-man all along, as his first love was the killer’s first victim.
Thus, a sense of entitlement combined with unrequited love and a dose of horrifying misogyny forces Nandan to be a serial killer. It also seems as though Nandan derives joy from killing, which is perhaps a result of his previous profession. However, considering the ending scene of the season, it seems as though the real leopard-man is actually out there, biding his time.
Is Angad Dead? Is Angad’s Son Maroot Alive or Dead? Who is Rabbit in Aranyak?
After Kasturi secures Manhas in the car, she notices Omi getting ready to fire at Angad. She shoots Omi just as he fires at Angad. Injured in the arm, Angad nonetheless approaches Omi to ask about his long-lost son, Maroot. Omi laughs and states that his son is still alive. Then, he shoots Angad in the torso.
As we hear the harsh sounds of Angad’s breathing, the scene shifts to a drug delivery boy with the code name Rabbit. Upon not getting his payment from a customer, Rabbit attacks the man and steals his money. It becomes apparent that Rabbit is Maroot. We know this because when Maroot was kidnapped five years ago, he was dressed as a rabbit for a school play. Additionally, the kidnapper, Omi, left the child’s rabbit mask on the greenroom mirror with the words “Bye, Bye.”
Omi kidnapped Maroot because Angad and his men had detained one of his nephews, Montoo, and killed another one, Babloo, during a drug raid. It thus is likely that Omi raised Maroot as Rabbit, a drug peddler, as the ultimate form of revenge. Alternately, it is possible that Maroot just ended up with the wrong crowd, the kind that constantly surrounds Omi, and was forced to become a drug deliverer to survive since he had no family support.
Although Angad is gravely injured, it is likely that he is not dead and will survive because Kasturi is nearby and can immediately take him to the hospital. Additionally, it is possible that a second season of the show will see Angad coming face to face with Rabbit and dealing with the resultant complications.
Read More: Is Aranyak Based on a True Story?