‘Kohrra’ Review: Does The Refurbished ‘Paatal Lok’ Stand On Its Own Two Feet?


It has been a great week for content, with Burn The House Down, Season 2 of The Summer I Turned Pretty, and Netflix’s Kohrra being released back-to-back. It just goes to show that people all over the world still care about quality. On that note, we applaud Barun Sobti for the man he is and the choices he continues to make. When he starred in a Hindi TV serial a decade ago, that serial and he became such a global hit that their relevance has continued to this day. Sobti has yet to disappoint us with his choices, be it with a light-hearted Tu Hi Mera Sunday or a thriller like Asur or, finally, a convoluted story like Kohrra. We bet that Barun Sobti never realized that he had become a hook of sorts. We will watch anything with his face on it, and it is just a bonus that the content is good. This is also a departure from the kind of roles he usually seems to take on, with Garundi being a little more impulsive and less inclined towards English, allowing him to sound out his words clearly instead of muffling them down. This tiny shade should be allowed in between all the fangirling we will always do for him. But leaving that behind, let us talk about Kohrra itself, which is from the house of Filmz, which is known for content like Bulbull, Pari, NH 10, and Paatal Lok.

Each one of them has been critically acclaimed to varying degrees, and the last one is their most successful project. That is probably why the brief for their next project in a long time was to follow the narrative of Paatal Lok. Kohrra is brilliant and engaging in its own way, and this is how inspiration must be taken if it is meant to be, which means that Kohrra should be on your watchlist. But the similarities are all there, and the creator of both shows is the same man, Sudip Sharma, may have something to do with it. The evils of patriarchy and toxic masculinity shape the narrative, with the women simply trying to break out of these shackles and build a life outside of them. Then there is the matter of the crime, and be it Paatal Lok or Kohrra, nothing is as it seems, and there are layers to the murder that are based on the choices the victim has made in the past. Finally, there is a police officer who is fighting against the system to get to the root of the matter while being no different from the people he is investigating. We don’t mind the similarities because the time since Paatal Lok was released and the fresh take on Kohrra means that things are engaging. But since season 2 of Paatal Lok is coming out soon, there is a real fear of repetition. However, despite all the similarities, the one difference that we are glad for is that women were not brutalized on screen the way they are in most Clean Slate Content. It was a huge relief to not see that happen. 

We know we have talked a lot about Barun Sobti and how good he was as Garundi. But Suvinderpal Vicky was an equal star of the show, with his stoic restraint and controlled anger that came from him taking on the role of a patriarch, which no one wanted. Like it happens when you discover a new actor you like, we looked up his body of work and understood once again why we need to watch more regional cinema. On a lighter note, wasn’t it delightful to watch Rachel Shelley, who played Elizabeth Russell in Lagaan, return to our screens after all these years? 

In an interview with Sudip Sharma, he mentioned that his stories like to explore the politics of different kinds of love. We agree with him. However, we must point out that he seems to view queer love through a tragic lens. Going by what we saw in Paatal Lok and Kohrra, politics for love when it is queer always seems to end in bloodshed. We don’t argue that our society is homophobic, but the LGBTQIA+ community is not bereft of happiness, despite the struggles they face. Sudip Sharma is not the man who can successfully represent that side of their stories.

Moving on to different things, if you are a non-Hindi speaker, we recommend experimenting with the different audios of the series. It is simply way too much fun. As for the narrative, it is something that demands that you stay alert throughout. The sequence of events leading up to the crime took place over less than 2 hours, but their investigation involved compiling the many fragments and tracking down multiple people. That is undoubtedly the nature of an investigative thriller, but it is also very easy to lose track of what is going on at times.

That brings us to how we needed time to make sense of the title itself, Kohrra, which means fog. We desperately hoped that it wasn’t one of those unnecessarily metaphorical titles that often come our way, and we were thankful to note that it wasn’t so. It is a reference to the construct of society that often clouds our judgment and prevents us from seeking out our real happiness, which lies just beyond the fog. The narrative justifies the title, and that is one of the first marks of a well-written show.

The underlying point remains that it is worth watching. Whatever the comparisons, this is something new in its own regard and is worthy of the audience’s time. From a particular perspective, it also sets our standard of expectations for Season 2 of Paatal Lok, which we hear is in post-production at this point. We can’t remember the last time we enjoyed a crime drama so much without getting tired of it midway. Kohrra remained a crisp and attentive affair till the very end, and it was a great blessing to Netflix’s otherwise mediocre lineup.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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Kohrra remained a crisp and attentive affair till the very end, and it was a great blessing to Netflix's otherwise mediocre lineup.'Kohrra' Review: Does The Refurbished 'Paatal Lok' Stand On Its Own Two Feet?