What starts off as a crime procedural drama in Kohrra soon morphs into a study of human nature and its fallacies. The title in itself is a metaphor for the ‘fog’ that surrounds the characters and blurs their visions.
This myopic vision becomes a hindrance in the way they see others and also in the way they see themselves.
Astutely directed by Randeep Jha, the sensitive writing by Gunjit Chopra and Diggi Sisodia adds depth and intensity to the narrative, making each and every character study so complex. When the show ends, it leaves you with an aching heart.
Among the themes that Kohrra delves into are parental patriarchy, generational trauma, facing your inner demons, oppression faced by women and minorities and dysfunctional families.
Parental patriarchy is evident through the relationships between two pairs of fathers and their children - one of Balbir Singh (Suvinder Vicky), a cop and his daughter Nimrat ( Harleen Sethi) and the other between an influential businessman Steve Dhillion (Mansih Chaudahry) and his NRI lawyer son Paul (Vishal Handa).
Nimrat returns to her father’s home with her son to escape her marriage, and Balbir considers it impudent. One would think that she has returned home due to unrest in her marriage, but that isn’t true. Her feelings for her husband are quite complicated. We hear Balbir say multiple times, “Love is a b***h”, making his regressive ideals all the more evident. Those very ideals prevent Nimrat from living the life she dreams of for herself.
Nimrat is in love with someone else, but a rigid Balbir fails to acknowledge his own child's feelings. He locks her in a room, beats her lover to a pulp and forbids her from pursuing the relationship, instead emotionally blackmailing her to return to her husband. The thought that his daughter can leave a ‘good and financially stable’ man for love is unfathomable and unacceptable for Balbir.
Steve and Paul’s relationship is one that shows you the effect an overtly strict parent can have on a child’s life.
Steve is an abusive father who beats up Paul for removing what he sees as a “sign of masculinity” – the turban. Paul lives a double-life thanks to his father's dictatorial ways even in today’s day and age. Maybe Paul would not have met the fate he did if his father did away with the archaic patriarchal ways.
As a parent myself, I often refrain from only telling my child, “I am proud of you.” I am always quick to add, “You should be proud of yourself too.” So much changes when our sense of security and validation is not just attached to our parents and others around us. The need to please others to increase to your self-worth is worrying.
Mannider Dhillon (Varun Badola), Steve’s younger brother, talks about how proud he is of Paul, who is an accomplished lawyer in London and definitely brighter than his son Happy, who they have always kept things “simple” for so that he understands easily. Desperate for his father’s love, respect and validation, Happy builds resentment for his cousin and that pushes him to the edge.
As with most relations, when expectations are not met in parent-child relationships too they tend to get sour. Love turns into resentment, pain and hurt takes over and the burden of expectations only feels more overbearing b each passing day.
Women With no Agency
While Kohrra explores complexities of relationships with people and with ourselves, the show also highlights the fact that we still live in a world where women have no agency.
Paul’s mother has no say, and when she does , her words fall on deaf ears. In the horrific scene when Steve beats up Paul, she is seen pleading to him to stop, but he doesn't respond at all. We hear her say later, “ I failed him (Paul)”, presumably regretting that she could not stand up for him or make him feel safe.
In another instance, Nimrat leaves her husband’s house and you would think that that is a woman with agency, right? Sadly, not. Nimrat is not made to feel welcome by her father and is berated every day for taking that step. She does try to fight him, but it always ends with her being roughed up by her father, so much so that she decides to end the misery once and for all. It takes all this and more for Balbir to finally see sense and know that a parent’s love is not only shown by physically fighting for your child but also by allowing them their individuality and freedom.
Balbir, a man who represents the patriarchal mindset, is seen as a highhanded man at work and does his best to do the right thing there, but at home we see him as a man who is holding on to any vestiges of power that he can. A man who believes that his thoughts, way of life and decisions are what people should live by. There does come a time when he changes the way he thinks and tries to make amends. It's interesting how the show closes with Balbir coming face to face with his demons.
Kohrra also highlights the impact of generational trauma and how it affects the lives of everyone involved. How we interpret relations, people, situations around us has a lot to do with what we have grown up seeing. After all, we all are products of our experiences. For instance, Nimrat, who has grown up in an unhealthy and unhappy home, internalises the trauma.
Kohrra explores complex interpersonal relationships of its characters, makes you pause and think about the people around you and yourself too. The fog lifts and we see things, that otherwise engulf us and continue to distract us from the truth.