Trial By Fire review: Poignant series sheds light on true tragedy

In ‘Trial By Fire’, victims of the Uphaar Cinema fire in 1997 band together to take action against the movie theatre owners. The drama film is now streaming on Netflix.


The narrative has been adapted from the novel on the incident written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost their children in the fire.

The show is also told predominantly from their perspective. It begins with Shekhar (Abhay Deol) and Neelam (Rajshri Deshpande) losing their kids, who had attended Uphaar cinema to watch the 1997 film ‘Border’.

After the tragedy, essential details come to light. The movie hall’s door had been locked from the outside to prevent anybody from watching the film without a ticket.

When the fire occurred, this prevented those inside from exiting safely and led to numerous deaths. The owners, Ansal Brothers, had been in charge of the day-to-day operations at the time and were indirectly responsible.

Neelam and Shekhar bring together all those who lost someone in the tragedy and create the Association of The Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).

AVUT has been engaged in a legal battle against the Ansal Brothers for over 25 years now and still struggling to get justice.


Deol and Deshpande are terrific as the two protagonists who are reeling from great loss. The two anchor this entire narrative adeptly. 

Anupam Kher and Ratna Pathak Shah, who play Mr. And Mrs. Bedi, display their well-known acting prowess and impress despite low screen time.

The rest of the cast is stellar as well. The quality of the series is a testament to each and every actor, no matter the duration of the role.


The series handles the delicate topic of a true tragedy extremely well. There’s no forced exaggeration, and the treatment is quite nuanced.

It doesn’t just focus on the two protagonists, but a plethora of victims and other families who lost someone dear to them in the incident.

Entire episodes are dedicated to other characters which provides more context. This makes the viewers more invested in them.

This also results in a higher impact when the flashback of the tragedy is shown at the end. You already know all those who perished and are hit harder by their death. Showing it at the end instead of the start is a masterstroke.

The Uphaar Cinema tragedy isn’t that well known, especially outside Delhi, despite the release of the book. The series will inevitably raise awareness surrounding the incident.


The shift from past to future is extremely unclear. The show constantly moves from the day of the fire to different timelines and doesn’t provide enough cues.


Trial By Fire is an excellent series that manages to narrate a delicate subject matter with care and the final outcome is nothing short of impressive. Definitely one for your binge list.

Trial By Fire
Trial By Fire review: Poignant series sheds light on true tragedy 1

Director: Prashant Nair and Randeep Jha

Date Created: 2023-01-13 13:00

Editor's Rating:

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