Love is kind of like when you see a fog in the morning when you wake up before the sun comes out.
It’s just a little while, and then it burns away…
Love is a fog that burns with the first daylight of reality.
Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell
That lurid title, Love is a dog from hell, is the cinematic hook of the series Kohrra (fog). In the opening scenes, a young couple snoops into a lush field to get some privacy but the haunting backdrop echoes with the ceaseless barking of a dog, an unwelcome intrusion that steals their momentary bliss.
The man, irked by the constant disruption, abandons his partner and walks towards the dog. He is livid and looks as if he is about to snuff out the source of the noise. But in a chilling twist, it is revealed that the dog was barking for a reason.
The dog’s persistent calls beckon the unwilling couple, making them privy to a gruesome discovery; the lifeless body of a mutilated soul casting a shadow over the once-serene landscape.
Charles Bukowski, the German-American poet, “a laureate of American lowlife,” as Time once called him, has a following that cannot be ignored.
A piece of work that enriches the tradition of intricate long-form storytelling, Kohrra is more than a police procedural. The six-episode series, at its core, is an enthralling drama that pulsates with life.
Directed by Randeep Jha, Kohrra is a slow-burn investigation thriller. Within its confines dwell a cast of vivid characters, each resonating with the essence of a culture’s fleeting desires and harmonies.
This odyssey delves fearlessly into the dismal abyss of human frailty, wherein even its repugnant ugliness claims a haunting, almost ethereal, allure. Kohrra bears resemblances to Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab (2016), a film co-written by Sudip Sharma.
Kohrra is clearly influenced by Bukowski’s writings and one can discern the resonance of the French writer, Michel Houellebecq. And yet, there is nothing portentous about this show runner. Like the Mexican writer, director, producer, Guillermo Arriaga, Sudip Sharma’s passion for the human condition runs through the show.
Kohrra weaves a tapestry of contradictions that plague a land engulfed in cultural strife. Within its boundaries, privilege and poverty intermingle. One seeks solace in the form of either a jab to numb oneself or a ticket to escape.
The direction unfolds with the precision of a wound clock, orchestrating a sprawling yet coherent script that leaves no loose ends. The characters breathe with life. Meticulously detailed, they lend substance to a sombre visual narrative.
The storyline deftly delves into the essence of the culture it embraces, drawing upon a symphony of visuals and music that resonate with a profound understanding.
Accompanied by an ensemble cast that approaches perfection, the narrative ensnares the viewers’ hearts with its irresistible allure.
Crafted by Gunjit Chopra, Sudip Sharma and Diggi Sisodia, Kohrra weaves a tapestry of contradictions that plague a land engulfed in cultural strife. Privilege and poverty intermingle within its boundaries, where one seeks solace in the form of either a jab to numb oneself or a ticket to escape.
Like the British shows Happy Valley, Broadchurch and Mare of Eastown, it displays a fascination not with violence and human fragility but with the lengthy shadow it leaves behind.
The show also boasts a tour-de-force central performance by Suvinder Vicky, brilliant as ageing policeman Balbir, facing the everyday bizarrerie of policing in a tired, depressed, grimly beautiful pocket of the Punjab.
Suvinder embodies Balbir with a nuanced brilliance. His sombre countenance speaks volumes and his brooding eyes carry an intense weight, encapsulating the all-consuming burden of guilt and grievance he carries due to his daughter’s (Harleen Sethi) infidelity and unresolved father-daughter issues.
The plot is simple: The body of a foreigner, a bridegroom, is found in the fields. His closest companion has vanished.
In their investigation, Balbir and Garundi (Barun Sobti) embark on a quest to unravel the enigmatic societal clichés that shroud the Punjab, laying bare a complex tapestry of masculine pride, generational animosity, oppressive patriarchy, unresolved childhood trauma, unrequited passion and shame.
While Garundi admires Balbir, he finds the older man powerless against the system. Amidst their personal struggles - grappling with grief, guilt, and deep-seated grudges - they ponder over how the Punjab can improve while ‘accountability’ shields the elite.
Balbir steers clear of exploitative and melodramatic theatrics in his portrayal of the character. He cusses at love. Within his Bukowskian words lies a labyrinth of profound depth and intense thought, where the enigma of a fateful night serves only as a mere decal, hinting at a far more unsettling revelation.
In the midst of its haunting ugliness, a derelict beauty emerges, leaving us spellbound by the enigmatic narrative that dares to explore the intricacies of love. Love, that elusive and intangible force, teases us with its presence yet eludes our grasp, defying definition and manifesting differently to the very same hearts. A bit like listening to Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.
Love, that passionate force, unleashes its fiery grip, weaving a tapestry of questionable and tempestuous forms that send shivers down the spine. Brace yourself, for this journey into the heart’s darkest recesses, will leave you breathless and haunted by its revelations. It puts the whimsy opening of the show in context.
In the midst of its haunting ugliness, a derelict beauty emerges, leaving us spellbound by the enigmatic narrative that dares to explore the intricacies of love. Love, that elusive and intangible force, teases us with its presence yet eludes our grasp, defying definition and manifesting differently to the very same hearts. It’s a bit like listening to Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.
With masterful finesse, the film-making dauntlessly navigates the delicate realm that straddles the boundary of text and subtext.
Kohrra emerges as a beacon of truth that shines through the murky fog of uncertainty. It beckons us to witness the unfulfilled prophecies people weave, dreams that they birth into existence but never embrace in reality. The tale is an invitation to contemplate our understanding of love, to confront the shadows that lurk within our souls.
Kohrra Netflix series 6-episodes
Released: July 15
Creators: Gunjit Chopra, Sudan Sharma, Diggi Sisodia
Director: Randeep Jha
Stars: Suvinder Vicky, Baron Sobti, Manish Chaudhari, Varun Badola, Amaninder Pal Singh, Aanand Priya, Arjuna Bhalla, Harleen Sethi and British actress Rachel Shelley.
Produced by Clean Slate Films
Narendra Pachkhédé is a critic and writer who splits his time between Toronto, London and Geneva.