Suvinder Vicky has been heaped with accolades for his layered, nuanced performance in the Netflix series Kohrra. The compliment that Vicky cherishes the most came through social media, from a viewer who said that the 50-year-old actor reminded him of Irrfan. “I have saved that message – for me, it’s a dream come true,” Vicky told Scroll.
Written by Gunjit Chopra and Diggi Sisodia, Kohrra begins as a police procedural and evolves into an examination of the fraught nature of relationships. Directed by Randeep Jha and co-created by Sudip Sharma, Kohrra is among the most accomplished shows on a streaming service in a while.
Vicky plays Balbir Singh, a sub-inspector who, along with his colleague Garundi (Barun Sobti), investigates the murder of a wealthy man in a town in Punjab. Balbir is a decent cop with a troubled back story, which has severely damaged his relationship with his daughter Nimrat (Harleen Sethi). The Balbir-Nimrat track is the most memorable strand in Kohrra, giving Vicky the opportunity to depict rage, vulnerability and empathy.
Vicky previously played a troubled man in uniform in CAT, another Punjab-set Netflix series. In that show, Vicky’s Sehtab Singh is embroiled in all kinds of crooked activities. Vicky plays the part with understated but marked menace.
“I had completed CAT by the time of Kohrra,” Vicky recalled. “It didn’t even cross my mind that I was playing a policeman back-to-back. The first priority is to take work when it is offered to you, and the next challenge is to understand the character. The roles are quite different. One is the antagonist and the other a protagonist. They have different shades.”
Like a few other Punjabi actors who have made their mark in Hindi films and shows – among them Samuel John and Vansh Bhardwaj – Vicky emerged from the state’s theatre and arthouse film scenes. Vicky has a Master’s degree in theatre and television from Punjabi University in Patiala. “I did a lot of theatre work and then started appearing in television serials and Punjabi films,” he said.
Samuel John, who was in Gurvinder Singh’s directorial debut Anhe Ghore Da Daan (2011), also plays a key role in Kohrra, as a truck driver with possible links to the murder. Vicky was among the ensemble cast of Singh’s Chauthi Koot (2015).
After Chauthi Koot, Vicky displayed his range in Ivan Ayr’s Milestone (2020). Vicky memorably plays a truck driver who is faced with retrenchment and irrelevance.
In a previous interview with Scroll, Ayr said that he cast Vicky after watching Chauthi Koot. “Suvinder’s face felt very powerful and right,” Ayr said. “He has brought dignity to the character and has displayed skill in restraining himself. It takes a lot to keep the restraint even when there is so much pent-up emotion.”
The experience in arthouse cinema held Vicky in good stead after the Hindi film industry took note of his performances. Kohrra’s Sudip Sharma was the co-writer of Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab (2016), in which Vicky had a small role as a drug-runner’s henchman.
“I have been lucky to keep getting roles,” Vicky observed. His approach to his craft has shifted over time.
“The more work you do, your development of characters evolves accordingly,” Vicky said. “You may have studied something, but its practical application is quite different. You could develop characters through research. With Kohrra, I felt that I had to bring out the character from within. Balbir couldn’t be too loud, he had to be close to life, he had to feel from the inside.”