indian cinema heritage foundation

Kohraa (1964)

  • GenreThriller
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Length4211.71 meters
  • Number of Reels16
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingA
  • Censor Certificate Number1460/64 - Mumbai
  • Certificate Date11/03/1964

Based on Daphne Du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, this atmospheric drama revolves around the mysterious death of the wife of a rich estate owner. The film opens with a montage showing the glamorous and popular Poonam entertaining guests in the haveli while her husband Amit is away. Dai Maa who manages the household disapproves of her excesses. But Poonam refuses to pay her any heed and goes off to meet her lover Kamal in a sea-side bungalow. In an enigmatic series of shots, the sound of bullets is heard and a man takes Poonam’s limp body away. A drunkard stands outside the bungalow and cackles maniacally, declaring that Poonam is no more.

Rajeshwari (Raj) comes to live with the zamindar Rai Sahab after her father passes away. After the death of the zamindar his wife plans to marry her off with her mentally ill son. To escape this entrapment Raj contemplates suicide. She goes to throw herself off a cliff. But she notices another man standing on the edge of an adjacent cliff. Their eyes meet and both retreat from the cliffs. Later Raj finds out Amit is a guest at the zamindar’s house. As they continue meeting, each senses a profound connection with the other. It does not take long for Amit to propose to her and she happily accepts.

After their marriage they travel to Amit’s magnificent haveli Mayfair. But as soon as they reach, Amit’s behaviour towards her grows distant. Raj also senses that Dai Maa does not approve of her, as she is needled at every turn with tales of Poonam’s far superior qualities. She is not allowed to go to the west wing of the house where Poonam used to live. Poonam’s lingering memory and signs of her presence hang over her like an oppressive pall. She also experiences strange supernatural events within the haveli increasing her feelings of dread. To make matters worse, Amit is always away to manage his estate business, leaving her with the cold and manipulative Dai Maa. One day she stumbles upon the sea-side bungalow. Inside she finds the drunkard Ramesh who again utters cryptic messages about Poonam’s faithlessness. Ramesh too was apparently in love with Poonam and seems to be aware of the mysterious circumstances of her death. When Amit finds out that she went to the bungalow he rebukes her mercilessly. Later Raj comes to discover that the west wing of the house has been kept exactly as if Poonam was alive. Raj starts feeling trapped between Poonam’s mummified memory and her own unbearable loneliness. 

Meanwhile the police discover Poonam’s body in a nearby bog. Hitherto it was believed that she died in an accident but her corpse reveals the truth. Over the course of the murder investigation Raj becomes aware of the dark past of Amit’s marriage. One day she overhears Amit confessing to having murdered Poonam that night. Tortured by guilt Amit leaves a heartbroken Raj and surrenders to the police. The subsequent court case ultimately reveals the whole truth of that night and Poonam’s killer is brought to light. 



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