Of the number of films and documentaries based on true stories, Trial By Fire is the most tragic. Netflix dropped the trailer of Abhay Deol’s latest series, and it reminds the viewers of the tragedy that unfolded in the year 1997. How a posh locality in South Delhi turned into a frenzied zone on June 13, 1997, is still a memory that haunts people at large and more so the families of the victims. The true story of the Uphaar Cinema tragedy is one that sends shivers down the spine.
Uphaar Cinema, located in Delhi’s Green Park area, had witnessed a massive fire in which almost 59 people succumbed and over 100 were injured. Owners of the infamous Uphaar Cinema, Gopal and Sushil Ansal were sentenced to a year of prison after they were found guilty of causing deaths by negligence. However, the latter was pardoned due to his old age. But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the victims’ families over the course of years. From coming to terms with their loss to fighting for justice, the road was a tough one and Abhay Deol along with Rajshri Deshpande tells the tumultuous tale of losing their loved ones whilst fighting the system in Trial By Fire.
The true story behind Netflix’s Trial By Fire
Heralded as a breakthrough in civil compensation law in India, the Uphaar Cinema tragedy is one of the horrors that unfolded because of negligent loose connections in one of the transformers that was situated close to the cinema building. According to several reports, one of the large transformers maintained by the Delhi Electricity Board (commonly known as the Delhi Vidyut Board) caught fire when the accident occurred. It is said that only a day before, repair work was carried out on the two transformers but it was unsatisfactory as there were loose connections.
The loosening of one of the cables in the transformer which dangled loose along with the radiator burnt a hole in the radiator fin. Due to this, the transformer oil started leaking. Thus, the heat generated by the loose cable touching against the radiator ignited the oil. The tragic incident could have been averted only if there had been an oil-soak pit. The absence of the oil soak pit led to the leaking and spread of fire. Ironically, the audience was unaware of the events unfolding and was enjoying the patriotic film Border.
A trial and investigation followed post the accidental fire tragedy. After numerous court dates and hearings, families of the victims came together and formed the ‘The Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy’. This body of people fought tooth and nail against the owners of the Uphaar Cinema and finally got justice after over a decade. Trial By Fire explores the same true story behind this tragic incident.
Trial By Fire trailer out: A look at Abhay Deol’s latest outing on Netflix
It’s a normal household setup. The children are telling their parents that they are going out for a movie. The mum says that she’ll pick up the kids when the film ends. The kids bid her goodbye. The parents engage in a conversation about how their children would soon grow up. This is how the trailer starts and it’s a powerful visualisation of characters. Through the course of the trailer, the viewers learn how the goodbyes said earlier were significant.
What follows is pandemonium as we see a fire has broken out. Smoke is seen billowing from the cinema’s building and there’s a sea of people looking hurriedly for their loved ones. Abhay and Rajshri as grieving parents showcase the anguish of the victims’ families who were engulfed in the blaze. But their misery doesn’t end there. The road to justice is far longer. Abhay Deol deftly portrays the sheer willingness of a parent, and a common man – who’d go to any lengths to ensure justice is meted out.
Watch the trailer here and get an insight into the tragic accident.
Produced by Endemol Shine India and House of Talkies, Trial By Fire is all set to release on the OTT platform on January 13. Abhay Deol’s last outing was in 2022 – Jungle Cry. Incidentally, that too was based on a true story. Jungle Cry explored the lives of 12 underprivileged and orphan children from Kalinga Institute in Odisha and their glorious journey to the International Junior Rugby Tournament that was held in the UK in 2007.
Hero Image: Courtesy abhaydeol/Instagram; Featured Image: Courtesy: rajshrideshpande/Instagram