‘Trial By Fire’ Ending, Explained – The Uphaar Cinema tragedy of the year 1997 could have been turned into a straightforward money-making docudrama, especially considering Netflix India’s success with the crime anthology Indian Predator. The streaming service made the right call by going with a seven-part miniseries.
The book’s authors, Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy are parents who lost three children in the fire that inspired the series. For decades, the Krishnamoorthy family and the AVUT (Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy) in Trial by Fire have been circling the courts in search of justice for the people who perished in the theatre fire. The Ansal Brothers, real estate tycoons responsible for landmarks in Delhi like the city’s first mall and the Uphaar movie theatre, are to blame.
A Brief Synopsis of the “Trial by Fire” TV Series
Shekhar and Neelam Krishnamoorthy of Delhi, India, let their children, Unnati, then 13, and Ujjwal, then 12, go to the movies with a friend of Ujjwal’s named Arjun on June 13. It was for a matinee showing of “Border,” a popular Bollywood patriotic film, which premiered on June 13. Massive crowds at the Uphaar Cinema were to be expected given the film’s star power and the subject matter (patriotism/nationalism). What happened next, however, was completely unexpected. A tragic event occurred when a faulty transformer at the theatre caught fire and caused a firestorm in the parking lot. It was already too late to stop the blaze when it spread to the hall’s unaware crowds.
Fifty-nine innocent people were trapped inside the Uphaar Cinema Hall when the power went out, and they all perished from smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s estimated that 103 people were injured, including those who rushed out to try to save others but were hurt themselves. Shekhar and Neelam’s tragic loss drove them to an unquenchable thirst for vengeance, and the deaths of Unnati and Ujjwal Krishnamoorthy that same day only added fuel to the fire. The book “Trial by Fire” by Shekhar and Neelam Krishnamoorthy is the basis for Netflix’s “Trial by Fire,” a compelling work of fact and fiction. This is the story of the two parents’ quest for justice in the wake of the tragic fire that took their children’s lives.
The AVUT: Who Were They? How Did They Maintain Their Determination?
As Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy saw the magnitude of the industrialists they were up against, they decided to band together with the bereaved families of the other victims. Though many others shared their scepticism, enough members of the affected families rallied to organise a group with the stated goal of providing mutual support while formally demanding justice. The Association of Victims of the Uphaar Fire Tragedy (AVUT) played a significant role in a lengthy legal battle that lasted nearly two decades.
Their entire legal battle was focused on one thing: holding the Ansal brothers legally accountable for the tragic accident that occurred on their property and claimed the lives of fifty-nine innocent people. In the beginning, the AVUT members were the target of numerous and varied forms of harassment and, on occasion, physical harm. In “Trial by Fire,” a man named Soori is depicted as acting as a dry fruit merchant when in reality, he is an Ansal henchman. Soori was tasked with contacting the victims’ loved ones and convincing them to take the monetary settlements. In exchange, the families were told not to speak publicly or ask any questions about what had happened.
Soori was once again appointed when the AVUT was established and included some families who had accepted compensation money but had nonetheless joined the association. His mission this time was to instil a sense of fear among the families so that they would abandon the Krishnamoorthys and their companions. The families of the victims were terrorised in a variety of ways, including through direct actions like physical assault and through indirect actions like having one child and his father evicted from their school and office.
Shekhar Krishnamoorthy and Soori had several confrontations in which Shekhar was threatened with death. However, Shekhar always stood his ground. With the help of his wife and a group of victims and lawyers, he worked tirelessly to uncover the evidence and proof they needed to win their case. In court, Neelam presented her side of the story and her findings, all of which pointed to the owners’ and authorities’ gross negligence. Despite the fact that Shekhar and Neelam had to deal with a number of outside commitments and interruptions, they never gave up on the battle they were so determined to win.
No matter the outcome of the case, they had to come to terms with the fact that they would never see their children again. Nonetheless, it was probably this understanding that drove the two to keep working for justice and, in doing so, makes sure that no such tragedies ever happened again.
“Trial By Fire” Ending, Explained: What Happens To Neelam And Shekhar?
However hard the CBI’s prosecutors and the AVUT’s members fought, it seemed that Gopal and Sushil Ansal would never admit guilt. The brothers spent all their money and influence trying to stay one step ahead of the law, but the courts kept overturning their victories. In 2003, for instance, the Delhi High Court decided to grant specific monetary compensation to the victims’ families, but the Supreme Court drastically reduced that award in 2011.
The Ansal brothers and other Uphaar Theatre management members were convicted of mass negligence and given a two-year prison sentence in 2007. This sentence was reduced for the Ansals to one year in 2008, and in 2009 they were released on bail. Neelam and the junior lawyer she worked closely with in 2003 concluded that crucial court documents were being removed and changed custody and set out to remedy the situation. Gopal and Sushil Ansal were also charged with tampering with evidence, and their trial concluded in 2021. The brothers were found guilty of tampering with evidence almost 25 years after the tragedy occurred. Six months later, however, they were released once more.
Inspired by the true story of a couple gripped by grief, watch how this mother fights for her family to reveal the truth behind the incident that changed her life. Will this trial result in justice being served? #TrialByFire now streaming, only on @NetflixIndia pic.twitter.com/WvafogUX0d
— Ashish Vidyarthi (@AshishVid) January 13, 2023
Meanwhile, the Krishnamoorthys keep pressing for justice, and “Trial by Fire” ends with a tight shot of Neelam getting ready for the upcoming court proceedings. Regardless of the size of the settlement offer, the couple has always insisted that they only cared about punishing the perpetrators. The opposing defence lawyers had made several attempts to smear the couple in court, referring to them as “vengeful maniacs” and “tearless mother” who “was only fighting for the sake of it.”
They persisted in their ideals and principles, and in the end, nothing could stop them. Neelam and Shekhar developed into staunch advocates for fire safety as the case progressed. They became advocates for fire safety, and their efforts helped change how the government and city administration handled fires. It might not be an exaggeration to say that their deeds and the deaths that resulted from the Uphaar accident helped raise awareness of the importance of fire safety in India. The fact that “Trial by Fire” is both practical and enjoyable is a constant reminder.
Stream “Trial by Fire” episodes on Netflix.