Two days before his wedding, a young British man of Punjabi extraction is found dead in a field. A kohra, or fog, hangs over the crime scene, which lifts only to reveal a mystery that even the greatest minds have been unable to solve: why do we love those we love?

In Netflix’s Punjabi-language series Kohrra, the answer unfolds over six satisfying episodes, each one simultaneously taking us closer to the truth and away from it. The narrative is a double-weave of police procedural and human drama, where the discovery of new clues is as important as the expression of repressed feelings. Characters lose their way in a maze of emotions, find the right way out and then plunge right back in, willed by forces beyond their control.

The six-episode show has been created and written by Gunjit Chopra and Diggi Sisodia. Sudip Sharma (Pataal Lok) serves as co-creator. Director Randeep Jha (Halahal, Trial by Fire) dexterously steers a solid cast through a thicket of deception, both of others and the self.

The victim is Paul (Vishal Handa), who has arrived with his childhood friend Liam (Ivanty Novak) in Punjab to wed Veera (Anand Priya). It’s an arranged match, leaving at least one deeply disgruntled soul – Veera’s boyfriend Saakar (Saurav Khurana).

Anand Priya and Vishal Handa in Kohrra (2023). Courtesy Clean Slate Filmz/Netflix.

Apart from Saakar, sub-inspector Balbir (Suvinder Vicky) and his colleague Garundi (Barun Sobti) have other suspects to consider. Liam has gone missing right after Paul’s death. Paul’s domineering father Steve (Manish Chaudhari) is in the middle of a property dispute with his brother Maninder (Varun Badola). Maninder’s son Happy (Amaninder Pal Singh) resents Paul.

The investigating officers follow several bread crumb trails alongside putting out domestic fires. While Balbir has a dysfunctional relationship with his daughter Nimrat (Harleen Sethi), Garundi is trapped in a peculiar situation in his own household. Balbir, in particular, yearns for succour, which he finds through Indira (Ekavali).

The tale of beastly love, as more than one character puts it, finds the right visual language to express the sharp writing. Elegant long takes by cinematographer Saurabh Monga immerse us in a world in which characters carefully and gradually reveal their motivations. Editor Sanyukta Kaza’s nifty match cuts connect scenes taking place in different locations, while also drawing emotional connections between seemingly disparate arcs.

The brooding background score, by Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar, complements the sober mood. The haunting Bas Tere Karke, sung by Ammy Sandu, composed by Wazir Patar and written by Nav Sandhu, conveys the show’s overarching idea – the heart is deceitful above all things.

Harleen Sethi in Kohrra (2023). Courtesy Clean Slate Filmz/Netflix.

Apart from a revelation that should have been made early but is held back all the way until the denouement, Kohrra avoids the usual gimmicks associated with similarly themed shows. Ambivalence lingers even after the case has seemingly been solved, upending the neatness that marks the typical crime investigation drama.

The most moving tracks belongs to the complicated men chasing a complicated case. Balbir is the kind of policing veteran we never seem to tire of meeting.

The source of Nimrat’s animosity towards Balbir runs parallel to the disclosures emanating from the murder victim’s household. Balbir and Nimrat are locked in misery, some of it of their own making and some of it a result of social pressure. The impact of this track is equally the result of nuanced performances by Suvinder Vicky, impressive in Milestone and CAT, and Harleen Sethi.

Barun Sobti, whose Garundi is the centre of another gathering fog, has his strong moments. Lagaan actor Rachel Shelley is affecting as Liam’s mother Clara, while Saurav Khurana has a meaty role as the vengeful ex Saakar.

Kohrra (2023).

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In web series ‘Kohrra’, a murder leads to an investigation into relationships