After the deadly Uphaar cinema fire, two grief-stricken parents navigate the loss of their kids and a dogged fight for justice. Based on true events.
Title: Trial By Fire
Cast: Rajshri Deshpande, Abhay Deol, Rajesh Tailang, Ashish Vidyarthi, Anupam Kher, Ratna Pathak Shah
Director: Prashant Nair, Randeep Jha and Avani Deshpande
On June 13, 1997, a tragic fire at Uphaar cinema in Delhi resulted in 59 deaths. Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, whose own children were among the victims, created an organization to support those affected by the tragedy. The fire was caused by lack of emergency systems, blocked and locked doors, and no support from staff who had fled the premises. The incident came to be known as the Uphaar tragedy.
The series states that it is a work of fiction inspired by the book “Trial of Fire”, and that it does not make any claims of authenticity or correctness of events. However, it does not shy away from naming the real-life individuals involved in the story. The Ansal brothers, Gopal and Sushil, who were prominent in the construction industry, are named and their actions are depicted, despite the fact that their charges were reduced and they did not serve their full sentence. The series shows the efforts of Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy in fighting for justice and bringing the Ansal brothers to account, even though their journey for justice is ongoing.
The seven-part web series “Trial By Fire” on Netflix is based on a book written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy. The Hindi title “Agniparkeeksha” reflects the couple’s courage in seeking justice for their children and the 57 others who died in a preventable tragedy. The fire took away their children, Ujjwal and Unnati, and the couple had to face immense challenges when trying to hold the powerful accountable for the tragedy. They faced refusal from the police to file a report, apathy from state officials, intimidation from the owners of the theater, the Ansal brothers, and betrayal from those close to them. The series accurately portrays the difficulties that ordinary citizens face when seeking justice.
Prashant Nair directed several episodes of the series, with co-directors Randeep Jha and Avani Deshpande. Soumayananda Sahi’s filming captures the urgency and immediacy of the story. The series highlights the important work of remembering the unsung heroes and their tireless efforts to seek justice, and it is a lasting document of their journey. The series reflects on how the press, both print and TV, kept the Uphaar tragedy alive in the public’s memory, in a country where many events are soon forgotten.
Rajshri Deshpande and Abhay Deol play the parents of the victims with such empathy that it evokes empathy from the audience. They depict the difficult task of facing each other when a birthday cake arrives for a child who did not survive, and how this affects their relationship. The scene where they hide the cake from each other, discover it, and cut it in silence, is heart-wrenching. The series shows how their home becomes a battlefield as they struggle with a lifetime of mourning, frustration, and resilience, but ultimately it is a journey of hope and inspiration.
In conclusion, “Trial by Fire” is a thought-provoking series that tells the true story of the Uphaar tragedy and the fight for justice by the victims’ families. The performances of the actors, particularly Rajshri Deshpande and Abhay Deol, are noteworthy for their empathy and emotional depth. The series is remarkable for its dignified and steady tone, even in the most sorrowful moments. The series manages to instill a sense of hope and inspiration even in the face of tragedy. It is important that it has been made so that nothing like this ever happens again and that we do not forget the lessons of the past.