A Review of ‘Kohrra’
Kohrra, a six-episode Netflix series co-created by Sudip Sharma (known for Paatal Lok) and directed by Randeep Jha (Trial by Fire), delves deep into the intricate dynamics of troubled relationships. Set in Punjab, the series weaves together multiple love stories entangled in a murder mystery.
Produced by Clean Slate Filmz and created by Gunjit Chopra and Diggi Sisodia, Kohrra shines a spotlight on two contrasting police officers investigating the violent death of a young NRI man just days before his wedding, alongside the disappearance of his English friend. While adopting the elements of an investigative thriller, Kohrra primarily focuses on dysfunctional families, complex relationships, and various forms of love that transcend age, class, and sexual orientation. These narratives unfold against the backdrop of drug abuse, gangsterism, patriarchy, policing challenges, and deep-rooted feudalism.
The series fearlessly embraces its genre, immersing viewers in a landscape teeming with drug peddlers, gangsters, contract killers, and ruthless real estate tycoons, among other discontents. However, the storytelling goes beyond mere police procedural, delving into the minds of individuals whose lives have reached a dead-end. As the two detectives navigate the murky underbelly of their surroundings, unraveling clues and suspects, the series gradually unveils a captivating collage of love and loss, envy and disillusionment, sometimes leaving viewers puzzled or disturbed.
Kohrra features a cast of scarred individuals, including flawed fathers, feuding siblings, and alienated children, all grappling with shattered lives and seeking solace amidst despair. The series exposes the darkness surrounding grieving families and the two detectives striving to uncover the truth.
The two police officers, Balbir Singh (Suvinder Vicky) and Amarpal Garundi (Barun Sobti), have contrasting personalities but forge a strong bond, sharing their fears and doubts about life and work. Balbir, a jaded and cynical sub-inspector nearing the end of his career, is accompanied by Garundi, a younger officer with a short fuse and a penchant for aggressive tactics. Both men face personal challenges and have something to prove.
The discovery of a brutally murdered body sets the stage for the investigation. The police interrogate Veera Soni (Anand Priya), the victim’s fiancée, which leads them to a Punjabi rapper named Saakar (Saurav Khurana), Veera’s ex-boyfriend. However, Balbir realizes that these two former lovers are just the tip of the iceberg.
Kohrra goes beyond the murder case, delving into the personal lives of Balbir and Garundi. The series explores their relationships, portraying people struggling to connect with loved ones, often leading to irreparable damage. The show captures the arduous journey of the detectives, highlighting their personal struggles, enhanced by the meticulous cinematography of Saurabh Monga and the editing by Sanyukta Kaza. The evocative background score by Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar, coupled with the immersive sound design by Mandar Kulkarni, adds layers to the multi-dimensional storytelling.
Balbir’s unhappily married daughter, Nimrat (Harleen Sethi), harbors resentment towards her father and estranged husband. She accuses Balbir of being a destructive influence, saying, “You are poison. Everything you touch is damaged.” Professionally, Balbir faces constant frustration, exclaiming, “I am tired of my failures.” Balbir yearns for redemption before retiring from the police force, but he faces pressure from his superiors to close the case rather than solve it.
Balbir forms a delicate bond with Indira (Ekavali Khanna), a young widow caring for her mother-in-law, who suffers from dementia. However, even this relationship carries a backstory marred by tragedy and guilt. Garundi, on the other hand, navigates his own complicated relationships. He is involved with his sister-in-law (Ekta Sodhi), which creates turbulence when he starts dating a beautician (Muskan Arora) and contemplates marriage.
A significant thread in Kohrra revolves around the family of the murder victim, Paul Dhillon (Vishal Handa). The conflict between his overbearing father, Satwinder ‘Steve’ Dhillon (Manish Chaudhari), and his brother, Maninder ‘Manna’ Dhillon (Varun Badola), over a land dispute adds another layer of tension to the narrative.
Clara Murphy (Rachel Shelley), Liam’s (Ivantiy Novak) mother, travels to Punjab upon learning of her son’s disappearance. As the police struggle to unravel the truth, Clara experiences anger and bewilderment at the alarming turn of events. The series climaxes with revelations and a denouement that rely on narrative pieces rather than solely relying on police findings. While some viewers may find this approach underwhelming, Kohrra manages to strike the right chords for the most part, ensuring that its social commentary remains intact.
Best standout features is its cast. Suvinder Vicky, known for his work in non-mainstream films like Meel Patthar and Chauthi Koot, delivers an exceptional performance as the experienced cop Balbir. Barun Sobti exudes tempered exuberance, providing the perfect counterbalance to his stoic and brooding co-actor.
Rachel Shelley, Harleen Sethi, and Ekavali Khanna seize the opportunity to leave an impression with their respective roles. Even with limited screen time, Manish Chaudhari and Varun Badola make their presence felt. Kohrra defies the need for conventional star power, showcasing that a well-crafted script can overshadow everything else. Alongside its gripping storyline, the series presents an alternative portrait of Punjab, moving beyond clichés often associated with Hindi cinema.