Kohrra on Netflix – Policing and Everyday Life in Contemporary India

By | 27th September 2023

In the UK, at least, TV coverage of India tends to be dominated by two tropes. First, there is celebrity tourism, focusing on the scenic and the exotic, interspersed by carefully choreographed interviews with colourful locals. Second, is poverty tourism, where a commentator with a social conscience on their sleeve picks their way through some setting calculated to induce outrage among well-heeled viewers. If we include cinema, we might add the Merchant-Ivory versions of the lush lives of privileged groups under Imperial rule.

Kohrra is exceptional in its flat depiction of everyday life in India today. Of course, there is dramatic compression, but the action moves seamlessly from property developers, night club owners, nail bar technicians and American-style diners to the dormitories of day labourers or the lock-ups of street prostitutes – male, female or trans – and the realities of Sikh funeral rites in an ancient cremator. Policing rests on an undercurrent of violence and fear, much of which is probably a legacy from colonial times. The interrogation techniques would not survive judicial scrutiny in the UK: equal opportunities means hiring female cops to beat confessions out of female suspects!…

The series has been highly praised by Indian reviewers, even though some have taken exception to its non-judgemental depiction of the realities of Indian policing. It would be a shame if it were overlooked by viewers outside that country simply because Netflix have not mobilized the full weight of their marketing machine behind it.

A Social Science Space blog

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