The opening scenes of Kohrra hint at what the show is really about, outside of being a crime procedural drama. A young couple finds a dead body in a field and the cops arrive on the scene swiftly. The conversation between the senior cop Balbir Singh (Suvinder Vicky) and the eyewitness suggests that the show is going to explore the deeper dynamics of love, sex, family, and attachment.
This becomes glaringly clear as the show progresses. Cops Balbir and his subordinate Amarpal Garundi (Barun Sobti) and investigating the murder of one Paul Dhillon (Vishal Handa), an NRI, who is found murdered. His friend Liam (Ivantiy Novak), a British national, who was purportedly with him at the time of the crime, is missing.
The duo was in Jagrana, a small town, for the former’s wedding and his fiancé is visibly distraught by his passing, and by the demise of her dreams.
His friend Liam (Ivantiy Novak), a British national, who was purportedly with him at the time of the crime, is missing.
The show’s name ‘Kohrra’ (fog) is indicative of the web of lies and deceit that everyone is spinning to keep the truth under wraps. Even as the cops try to handle their unraveling personal lives, the case they’re attempting to solve pushes them into one challenge after another. Both men are built by the same patriarchal system that they uphold and it is this conditioning that often prevents them from seeing what is right in front of them.
Despite Balbir’s knowledge that his anger and violence has caused his family to fall apart and his relationship with his daughter to be permanently frayed, he continues to choose violence as his weapon of choice when things seem to be getting out of hand. At the same time, he is stuck in a system that inhibits him from doing his job: his superiors ask him to pin it all on the poor and the disadvantaged instead of finding the powerful people running the game.
Despite bemoaning this, both the cops cannot see that they’re still looking at the case through their biases.
There are several tropes that weaker crime thrillers use in the stead of astute writing and Kohrra uses them to criticise the way ‘the obvious’ is often assumed to be the truth. There’s a land dispute between Paul’s abusive father Steve aka Satwinder (Manish Chaudhari) and his brother Maninder (Varun Badola).
This land dispute intertwines with Maninder’s son Happy’s (Amaninder Pal Singh) desire to be taken seriously by his family which in itself is mixed with a resentment for the golden boy Paul.
But not all is golden with Paul either since his father sees his life choices as him abandoning his ‘masculinity’ and brazen disrespect. This generational trauma is mirrored by Balbir’s relationship with his daughter Nimrat (Harleen Sethi) whose decision to escape an unwanted marriage is seen as insolence.
The show's reading of the way parent-child relationships can evolve over time is complex – how expectations between the two not being fulfilled can lead to varying degrees of resentment, hurt, and entitlement.
And where do these expectations arise from? Most of the expectations that characters in Kohrra have from each other come from their shared experience in a patriarchal setting. Women are expected to honour the heteronormative family system above all else and the men believe they must hold on to any vestiges of power that they can.
The cops easily turn to a jilted ex-lover, a drug addict, and a poor bus-driver as suspects because that is what they have been conditioned to do. The show, created by Gunjit Chopra and Sudip Sharma and directed by Randeep Jha, pushes the audience to question their own biases and makes you look deeper into the show’s writing.
Conversations surrounding sex and passion are treated like taboo which causes people to either walk out of conversations or react rashly instead of taking a moment to truly understand these complex emotions. And this affects everyone adversely. Even a wedding celebration is interrupted by tragedy.
The cops see any and all outliers are criminals or people worthy of disdain instead of human beings trying to make their own spaces in a society that puts them in reductionist boxes and relationships. Secrets are kept, revealed, and paraded, all as one wins and the other stands by. One delightful aspect of Kohrra is that none of the characters, especially the women, are reduced to props in an overarching story – one woman’s obsession reveals itself as the show continues and another’s actions make complete sense in the grand scheme of things.
And this smart writing finds its anchor in an incredible cast. As Balbir, Suvinder Vicky finds the right balance between bubbling rage and a grief entrenched deep in his psyche that he can’t fully confront till he confronts himself.
Rachel Shelley as Liam’s mother Clara is also dealing with a gut-wrenching grief but hers is a character of understanding, empathy, and tact; one she plays with utmost grace (it really is delightful to have her back on screen after Lagaan).
Every character has their flaws, ambitions; most have a burgeoning need to be recognised and held. Credit goes to writers Gunjit Chopra and Diggi Sisodia for creating characters that exist outside the binary of indifference and empathy.
Cinematographer Saurabh Monga uses the camera as a guiding hand, taking the audience deep into the happenings of this crime drama while also maintaining a steady distance till the makers are ready to reveal their cards. This skill is wonderfully complemented by Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar’s background score.
The show’s first few episodes take a second to find the right pacing and the final reveal seems to come much later than it should have but the show’s strengths are far too many. It is this uneven pacing that leads to a hurried climax.
Every red herring leads to another complicated chase sequence and while some of it can get tiring and drawn out, Kohrra leaves your with a heavy heart and occupied mind.