Kohrra: Unmasking the Chains of Patriarchy in Punjab

Image credit: Mid-Day

Kohrra, an exquisitely crafted series, may not entirely meet the Bechdel test’s criteria, but its portrayal of how patriarchy endures and the sacrifices entailed in breaking free is truly exceptional. Watching Kohrra is akin to savoring a well-prepared biryani – rich, intricate, perfectly balanced, and leaving you yearning for more, even though binge-watching it may cause some heartburn.

Praised for its impeccable casting, intense drama, and murder-mystery elements, the show directed by Randeep Jha had piqued my interest. A screenshot of someone listening to Wazir Patar’s “Tere Baad” further intrigued me, and when my partner and I listened to it, we were instantly captivated.

Kohrra offers a departure from the superficial world of Made in Heaven, providing a riveting journey that defies conventions and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The series delves deep into patriarchy without explicitly labeling it, set against the backdrop of Punjab. While it captures the state’s contemporary essence, it also feels like a microcosm, vividly illustrating the toxic aspects plaguing both urban and rural Indian culture.

Initially, I was disheartened that the lead character was a male police officer. However, as his character unravels, revealing abusive patterns, it becomes evident why he serves as a figurehead. Balbir Singh (Suvinder Vicky), the lead, personifies the everyday patriarch – a controlling husband and father who enforces subservience through violence.

The female characters mostly revolve around their male counterparts, reflecting the reality of their struggle for agency in a society that denies them power. They constantly appease their husbands, while Balbir’s daughter fights to break free, facing violent resistance at every turn.

At the core of every subplot is the theme of love under patriarchy, forcing deceit upon us. The turning point occurs when Balbir’s daughter courageously speaks her truth, her emancipation from patriarchal love. She becomes an unwitting protagonist, challenging our perception of Balbir.

Beyond personal love, the series explores authoritarian control. Balbir and Garundi (Barun Sobti) solve the murder case through thuggish tactics, exposing the normalization of lying and violence. It highlights the absence of justice in a world shaped by structural hierarchies.

Characters like Steve, the deceased’s father, exemplify toxic masculinity. Incapable of processing emotions, these men react impulsively, valuing power over joy.

Kohrra starkly depicts patriarchy’s perpetuation and the price of liberation. Despite not fully passing the Bechdel test, it stands as a profoundly feminist show, portraying life at the crossroads of capitalism and patriarchy.

Re-reported from the article originally published in Mid-Day by Rosalyn D`mello

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