Dahaad: Ending Explained (In Detail)

Dahaad: Ending Explained (In Detail)

What happened at the end of the Sonakshi Sinha-fronted police procedural show? Was the serial killer caught?

Created by Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar, and backed by Tiger Baby and Excel Entertainment, Dahaad roared onto the scene in May 2023, weeks after having premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. The Amazon Prime Video show, headlined by Sonakshi Sinha and co-starring Gulshan Devaiah, Sohum Shah, and Vijay Varma, was helmed by Kagti and Ruchika Oberoi.

Set in small town Rajasthan, the show is primarily a police procedural about three cops looking for the man responsible for a slew of murders. Unlike a lot of other shows, the perpetrator is known to the audience from the start, and the narrative thus revolves around his motives and methods, and around the police’s thorough investigation that is triggered by an all-too-common missing person complaint.

The Disappearances

In Mandawa, a woman from a Thakur family has recently eloped with her Muslim lover, causing much talk and some embers in the populace. A fringe right-wing outfit aggravates matters, forcing the police to pretend to show interest. Another case crops up from the same town, in which a woman’s family has not been able to contact her since she went away with her paramour Javed. A brief investigation reveals that Javed is still around, and that he never spoke to the woman in question. Moreover, Javed’s own sister is missing, though the police have been less than enthusiastic about investigating the matter. 

It is soon discovered that the women in question have all left home with clothes, money, and gold, and left behind a note explaining their wilful departure. The three officers at Mandawa – the righteous, progressive Station House Officer Devi Lal Singh (Devaiah), corrupt exile Kailash Parghi (Shah), and lone woman Anjali Bhaati (Sinha) – mount an investigation after Bhaati insists there is more to the disappearances than meets the eye, suggesting that there is a single perpetrator at large. Soon, the police start finding the bodies of the missing women, and autopsies arrive at the conclusion that each of them has been killed by a lethal dose of cyanide.

The Killer

Anand Swarnakar (Varma) is a professor at a nearby college who seduces women with his charm and knowledge. Once they have eloped with him, he murders them and makes off with their gold. But Anand, with his well-paying job and societal position, is not in it for the shiny stuff; it is the idea of teaching women a lesson. As a member of a historically oppressor caste who believes in the hierarchy, he targets only women from oppressed castes, intent on showing them their place in society as individuals of an inferior gender and community. He exploits their vulnerability, their single status in a society that values only married women, and their inability to find a partner. Anand also maintains immaculate records of his wrongdoing in a mobile library he operates — from victims’ photographs to their switched-off mobile phones. It is this that proves his undoing when his young son happens upon one of the phones and turns it back on, alerting the police, who have been tracking the phones of all the missing women.

When the police arrive, the child confesses that the phone belongs to his father, but Anand quickly assures the police that he stumbled upon the phone two years prior. He allows the police to search his mobile library, where he shows them a few more phones, claiming that he found all of them. He surreptitiously spirits away most of the phones and other evidence, concealing it in his workplace, confident nobody will find it.

The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Bhaati empathises with the victims, her gender and caste both being barriers to her social and professional mobility. It is this, coupled with an upright police officer’s desire for justice, that drives her to dig deeper.

Anand attempts to plant evidence on his brother, but when that contradicts the other evidence the police find, they train their eyes on Anand himself. Meanwhile, the one woman who survived his machinations is located, though she proves to be a reluctant witness, a product of being a married woman now. Her husband convinces her to cooperate with the police, adding that her statement could save lives. The victim then recounts how Anand, on their “wedding night”, gave her an emergency contraceptive pill laced with cyanide. Her statement gives Mandawa Police enough to begin building a case.

Anand, aware of the law’s hands inching closer to him, makes a run for it while the police put their best resources into tracking him down. He makes for Goa, where Miriam (Sanghmitra Hitaishi), a woman he has been pursuing for two years over video calls, is waiting to marry him. He reaches Goa, marries Miriam, and starts up his activities again.

The police finally nab him when he is on the verge of murdering Renuka (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee), a nurse he has entrapped, and he is taken back to Mandawa, where he is unrepentant for his crimes and conduct, and screams slurs targeting Bhaati’s background as he awaits trial.

In the conclusion of Dahaad, Bhaati decides to change her name back to Meghwal, a clear caste-indicator, choosing to live openly with her identity and own it. It is her way of standing up to the likes of Anand and others who use her caste to put her down.

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