Netflix’s ‘Kaala Paani’ is a drama series created by Sameer Saxena and Amit Golani, with help from writer Biswapati Sarkar, to remind viewers about the panic that the pandemic created. Starring Mona Singh, Ayushi Sharma and Rajesh Khattar, the show is set seven years after COVID came to light, in the mysterious Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. It follows the stories of different people whose lives change overnight due to an epidemic that is far worse than they can imagine. As efforts are made to control the situation, people in authority are faced with difficult choices as the common people continue to suffer. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Kaala Paani Plot Synopsis
In December 2027, a young girl watches members of the Oraka tribe trying to break the water pipeline, and there’s nothing but fear in her eyes. Unaware of these happenings, an awkward Santosh boards a flight with his feisty wife Gargi and their two kids, Parth and Vidisha/Kaddu. They’re finally in Port Blair for a much-needed vacation, and happen to sit in Chiru’s cab, who seems very convincing but is usually plotting something sinister. In another corner, police officer Ketan Kamat meets Mr. Wani, an executive of ATOM, responsible for the same pipeline the Orakas are trying to break. There’s a big festival coming up, and Wani needs Ketan to get all health clearances from the formidable Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Soudamini Singh.
Singh doesn’t trust anyone and is yet to find someone who is as brilliant as her. She comes across Ritu, who doesn’t seem confident but is the best person who can help with her research. Singh suspects there’s an outbreak of a bacterial infection, which is detected by black rashes on the neck. But without enough proof, she is forced to sign clearances for the festival in the presence of the lieutenant governor (LG), Admiral Zibran Qadri. But she’s not convinced and decides to head over to Jenkins Lake at night and finds an entire village wiped out clearly by the same disease. She knows it is water-borne, but before she can get the word out, she slips and hits her head, leading to her ultimate death.
Ritu has done some investigation of her own and has come to a similar conclusion. She approaches Dr. Shashi about her doubts and they both realize this issue needs to be flagged in front of the LG. The LG understands the severity of the situation and agrees to contain it through a lockdown drill for LHF-27. People eventually find out this is more than a drill, and it creates absolute panic among the locals and tourists attending the festival. Meanwhile, Jyotsna is struggling with her own demons as a former nurse, who couldn’t save her best friend Annirudh’s life from goons. But she has a second chance, and decides to help Kaddu and Parth, who are away from their parents.
A lockdown is declared soon, preventing an infected Gargi from finding her kids. When Chiru tries to extract money from Santosh, Pundi finally speaks out about him being selfish, and reveals that he is infected too. His outburst changes Chiru, and he now wants to genuinely help Santosh. As the Oraka tribe is missing, the LG gets concerned, since they saved him from drowning at one point. Gargi dies from the disease, which breaks Santosh, who is now a changed man. In a flashback scene to World War II, we learn that Japanese soldiers were affected by a similar plague, but they knew about some chosen ones who were immune to the disease. In the present, Jyotsna brings the kids to the same Japanese shelter where her Uncle Basu lives, so she can get epilepsy medicines for Kaddu.
Ritu comes across Dr. Singh’s research, which suggests LK-37 as a possible antidote for the disease. But it can only be extracted from a native plant that is now extinct, Andamani Echinacea. She tries to pursue her lead, but reaches a dead end. With help from Ketan, the politicians learn that the CEO of ATOM has bought an isolated island, Huxley, unaffected by the disease, which can prove to be a safe haven. The LG plans to send some civilians there too so they can be protected from the infected.
But soon enough, ATOM CEO’s wife, Mrs. Shaw, also gets infected. Without her, no one can escape the island. Meanwhile, Parth finds out he’s infected and decides to isolate himself till he dies. Chiru also finds out that he is adopted, and is immune to the disease since he’s the son of an Oraka woman. Ritu knows after examining Enmae, a captured Oraka, that they are the cure for the disease, since they have been consuming the plant for generations. This leads to an experiment with Ritu in the lead to find out if this cure will work by first trying it out on a pregnant Mrs. Shaw.
Kaala Paani Ending: Does Ritu Find the Cure for LHF-27?
Towards the end of the series, after Ritu has saved Mrs. Shaw and Chiru’s life in the procedure she tactically conducts, she comes across Jyotsna, who is in the same hospital to drop off Chiru. During a conversation, Jyotsna recognizes the plant she saw in the journal of the Japanese doctor in Basu’s house. Ritu is hopeful again about finding the cure and plans to meet Jyotsna later. Jyotsna is determined to help Ritu, but she needs to drop off Kaddu at the evacuation centre first. After Santosh and Kaddu are finally reunited, Jyotsna finds out that Kaddu is infected too, and feels like they need to inform the authorities to prevent other passengers from getting infected. This doesn’t sit well with Santosh, who has lost his wife and son, and can’t stand to lose his daughter. A transformed and harsh man now, Santosh chokes Jyotsna to death to prevent her from revealing anything about Kaddu’s infection, way before Jyotsna can tell Ritu about the coordinates from the journal.
Ritu too gets stuck in the middle with Ketan deceiving her so she can be escorted to the island with Wani. But before they enter, Ketan lets her go, since he realizes he is in love with her. Ritu reaches the spot Jyotsna told her about and finds Basu. She’s not able to contact Jyotsna, but decides to take the journey anyway to try and find out the location of the plant. While the makers have not made it clear that she will indeed be successful in her journey, without the coordinates and a certain direction, it’s very unlikely that Ritu will find the plant, especially since the information is from a 1940s journal, after which many things have changed. We also know through Ketan that Wani razed the only area in Jenkins where the plants were supposed to be growing on the graves of Orakas.
Will the Orakas Die?
More details about the Oraka tribe are revealed as the plot progresses, and how crucial they are to curing this epidemic. From the search for Orakas to learn more about the plant to the discovery that a life-threatening procedure can be conducted on them to save dozens of infected people, they have always been at the centre of the narrative. But Orakas are always suspicious of the locals, who look down upon them and just pretend to be polite. After hating Orakas all his life, Churi also finally learns of his roots and joins the Orakas as one of their own.
Since the existence of the plant is just a theory, Orakas seem to be the simplest solution to cure the disease. They are very clearly targeted throughout, even if doctors like Shashi protest against sacrificing their lives. The biggest twist comes from the LG, who has always been a supporter of the tribe, but in the end, realizes that he needs to sacrifice them for the greater good of the society. This is why he lets Chiru and Enmae go after they have been captured, so he can strategically make his team follow them to find out the whereabouts of the whole tribe. The cops do finally find them, but the Orakas have another card up their sleeve.
When the spread of the epidemic was initially discovered by the tribe, the Orakas knew the locals would eventually come for them after they figure out that Orakas are immune to such a disease. While Enmae initially wanted to help the locals, their leader decided that when the locals, due to their greed, finally do come to take their lives, they will fight. This is why even after the cops surround Enmae and Chiru, with Enmae’s help, they are both able to escape. The cops, unfortunately, find themselves surrounded by angry Orakas, who made the plan to push them against a wall they can’t climb, which refers to the sea. While it wasn’t clearly shown, it’s clear that the Orakas in the ending have an upper hand and can attack all the cops and save their tribe.
Will Vidisha/Kaddu Die?
Vidisha, better known as Kaddu, goes through her own traumatic journey of being separated from her parents and dealing with difficult situations. Jyotsna tries her best to sugarcoat things for Kaddu, so she doesn’t have to find out how bad things are. But when Jyotsna finds out Kaddu is infected right before they’re about to board the ship, things get more complicated. Even if Jyotsna loves Kaddu and wants to figure out a way to help her in a proper manner without infecting everyone else, Santosh isn’t so patient and ends up killing Jyotsna to protect Kaddu.
Taking care of the only obstacle that could prevent him, Santosh, in the end, boards the ship with Kaddu, and heaves a sigh of relief. As nothing after that day is shown, Kaddu is still alive at the end of the series. But it’s certain that Kaddu is infected, and she only has a few days to live. Santosh, at this point, doesn’t have a cure, but feels like on the other island, he can find resources and help for her. After boarding the ship, Kaddu also has access to the plant that can cure her disease, but sadly, neither of them knows of its benefits.
Kaddu had pulled out a leaf from the pot that Jyotsna planted with Vinayak as kids from seeds that his mother gave, who was very close to the Orakas. Towards the end, we are sure this is the same plant Ritu is desperately looking for. This is why Kaddu’s life can still be saved if she consumes the leaf in her notebook, but only if someone informs her and Santosh about it within the next few days. If Kaddu remains unaware, there are very few chances of her survival, especially since the Orakas have also not been captured, and the only hope at this point for anyone infected is the plant.