Kohrra: A deep dive into the politics of crime

From this kickoff point, the narrative gathers momentum weaving in and out of fractured relationships until we see the befogged world of Kohrra in all its chaotic clarity

Kohrra poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)
Kohrra poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

Subhash K Jha

Kohrra (Netflix, Language: Punjabi, 6 Episodes)

Rating: ****

I am happy to say that Kohrra is something really special. I wouldn’t want to insult Kohraa by calling it “entertaining”. Directed by Randeep Jha, he tries to create something far more profound, and he almost gets there. 

The characters are all desperately in search of some meaning to life beyond the wretchedness that shrouds their existence. The wonderfully  scripted whodunit (Gunjit Chopra, Sudip Sharma, Diggi Sisodia) opens as  police procedural with two police officer Balbir (Suvinder Vicky) and Garundi (Barun Sobti), one world weary the other getting there, investigating the brutal murder of an NRI Paul Dhillon (Vishal Handa) in rural Punjab.

From this kickoff point, the narrative gathers momentum weaving in and out of fractured relationships until we see the befogged world of Kohrra in all its chaotic clarity.

An existential anarchy is indeed mankind’s karma. This series doesn’t shy away from confronting the darkness even if it mean missing the light that probably awaits at the end of the table.

Almost every character, big or small, has a dark present. Every character  is sculpted with care and understanding. The widow Indira (played with  outstanding empathy by Ekavali Khanna) as the woman who finds herself attracted to the lonely cop Balbir, has a brief role. But she addresses a very important issue: the need for emotional and physical companionship in people beyond a certain age.

Or take the young cop Satnam (Veerpal Kaur). She hardly has twenty minutes of screen time. But her yearning for the good things in life touched and tickled me deeply.

As did Garundi's (Barun Sobti) desperation to get married before he crosses the marriageable age. There is a stunning sequence (the series is strewn with those) where Garundi barges into a woman’s home looking for a crime suspect. The woman brazenly offers him sex (who is she, how did she get to this?). When Garundi rebuffs her advances the woman taunts, “It looks like you like boys only.”

The startled look on Garundi’s face brings us to the other major theme in the luminous labyrinth of Randeep Jha’s wounded universe: homophobia. It is no coincidence that references to fellatio recur in the plot, and also provide a rare moment of humour when a woman rushes out of her workplace excusing herself for lunch(at 11 am) on hearing the ‘F’ word.

The series belongs to every character in the plot. Most of all , it belongs to  Balbir Singh, played with such effortless brilliance by Suvinder Vicky that  the characters feel as close to real life as cinema can take us.

More than the murder mystery (the solution becomes fairly apparent after a few episodes) Balbir’s troubled relationship with his daughter Nimrat (Hasleen Kaur, absolutely superlative) forms the crux of the drama.

But can a word as intrinsically simulative as ‘drama’ really be applicable to something so far removed from artifice, it doesn’t feel like drama at all? With the writing many notches above what we normally get to see, and performances that own the characters, Kohrra is impossible to get out of your head. Its vivid portrayal of guilt and anger will trigger bits of both the emotions in the spectator.

If you are the kind who doesn’t binge-watch serials, Kohrra is the one for you.

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