Kohrra is a celebration of Neo-noir police procedurals. Like Pataal Lok, Sudip Sharma’s new venture will leave crime thriller fans reeling. Streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Director: Randeep Jha
Writers: Diggi Sisodia, Gunjit Chopra, Sudip Sharma
Cast: Suvinder Vicky, Barun Sobti, Harleen Sethi, Manish Chaudhari, Varun Badola, Rachel Shelley, Vishal Handa, and more
Kohrra, streaming on Netflix, is not an easy watch. You cannot simply stare at the screen for a couple of hours, binge-watch the six episodes and forget about it. Jha has carefully crafted a series that will trap you like a fly in a spider’s web and leave you struggling in the aftermath.
Paatal Lok vs Kohrra
Where Sudip Sharma’s previous outing (Pataal Lok) was another police procedural, Kohrra is different. Kohrra does not spend time pulling you into the whirlpool that is the crumbling bureaucracy. Instead, it lands you bang in the middle of a cultural milieu that breeds a socio-sexual-economic depravity. In Kohrra, it becomes difficult to ascertain who pulls the trigger and who hands you the gun.
Kohrra: A Police Procedural or More?
As a police procedural, Netflix’s Kohrra excels in the noir tones of grey, blue and green. The dead body of the NRI groom Paul is found on a field, away from the prying eyes of conservative society. It is a spot that is privy only to lovers. The local police officers arrive. Balbir Singh and his young lackey Amarpal Garundi pick up the case, only to discover the weeping bride. This is followed by confusing questions that leave the cops and their own crumbling personal lives unsettled.
Where suspicion fails
So far Kohrra comes across as a fairly straightforward whodunit. What Jha and Sharma do next is put a wrench in those plans. They take you on a wild goose chase. They make you bark up all the wrong trees, along with the cops. There’s a whole selection of easy targets to label as the killer. These include the groom’s bitter uncle and the uncle’s son. There are thieving addicts (looking at Udta Punjab). The bride’s ex-boyfriend with deep-rooted anger issues is also a consideration. To complicate things further, a money-strapped bus driver and the age old cliched abusive father enter the mix.
Love: Blessing or Curse?
While the case proceeds, we are taken into the lives of the cops who are supposed to bring the killer to justice. Balbir Singh with his stony expression and his inability to show emotion is an abusive husband and an overprotective father. He is keen on teaching his philandering daughter a lesson. He roughs up her lover and derides her for carrying on with her extra-marital affair.
There is an excellent shot where a lawyer appointed by Singh’s daughter asks her why she wants a divorce. She acknowledges that there is nothing wrong with her husband. Like Balbir, we are left wondering rather irately why she wants a divorce. This scene is the crux of the film, something that both the audience and Balbir Singh realise belatedly. It comes back to haunt us in the form of the speech that Balbir gets after his abduction. That is precisely when Singh connects all the dots. There is an excellent dream sequence that precedes the denouement. Singh’s mind is laid bare to us as a grim noir film as blood pours out of his forehead. He looks at his cracked image in the mirror and realises the wasteland Punjab has turned into. It is a wasteland of scarecrows that our bereaved bride wants to escape.
Binge or Skip?
The opening scene reminds you of the preppy number “Radha” from Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal. Shahid Mallya sings –
“Unche chaubaare main/ Jane kaise June main bhi/ Kohra padhe o padhe”.
This song is a fun number that announces the satisfaction of meeting your lover secretly. In contrast, Kohrra traces the dark underbelly of love caught in the constraints of society, and the monstrous persona it develops when allowed to re-emerge from the dusty corners of small-town Punjab, in the fields, in the dead of night, only for secret liaisons. Binge Kohrra then? Definitely!
Empire Weekly Bonus
Punjabi beats are your go-to music numbers? Look no further than Wazir Patar’s groovy songs from Kohrra!