Trial By Fire Season 1 Review – A gripping, emotional and painful story

Season 1

Episode Guide

Trial By Fire -| Review Score – 3/5
A.V.U.T. -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Memorial -|Review Score – 4/5
Uphaar -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Heroes -|Review Score – 4/5
Villains -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Border -|Review Score – 5/5


There has been a boom in the true crime genre lately and shows based in India have been doing extremely well. Over the past few years, Netflix India has released several TV shows based on True Crime stories from all over the country including dramatized series like Delhi Crime as well as documentaries like Indian Predator.

A new addition to this genre is Netflix’s series, Trial By Fire. The seven-episode mini-series follows the true story of The Krishnamoorthys based on a novel written by the couple titled, ‘Trial by Fire: The Tragic Tale of the Uphaar Fire Tragedy’. The Netflix show, starring actors Abhay Deol and Rajshri Deshpande as Shekhar and Neelam Krishnamoorthy, follows the story of a couple who lost their only two children after a cinema hall caught fire in 1997.

The couple were determined to uncover the truth behind the gruesome fire as they were left thinking about why their teenage children were not able to leave the cinema hall and how the cinema owners and managers were all equally responsible for the deaths of their two children as well as 57 other innocent lives.

The first few episodes of Trial By Fire are a slow burn and many characters that do not make sense at first slowly start to show up in the final three episodes, giving viewers the conclusion that they need. The story focuses on the lives of the family members after the tragedy happened. From the first episode itself, viewers are made to see how painful the deaths had been for the family members that survived.

Watching Neelam break down after she learns that her deceased son’s friend survived the fire while both her children didn’t and then seeing the old man mourn the loss of seven of his family members who all died in the fire were extremely emotional scenes and were performed with just as much intensity as needed.

Movies are recreational events where people come together to take some steam off their rigorous and mundane lives. But Trial By Fire attempts to throw light on how mismanagement and greed caused so many people to die in a closed space that lacked proper fire-fighting equipment and exit arrangements.

Episodes 1 through 4 set the scene for the crime and aim to highlight the various factors that could have contributed to the fire. The randomness of characters like Captain Hardeep Bedi, Mrs Bedi, Neeraj Suri or Umesh seem inconsequential to the plot but it all starts to make sense by the end of the show with its final episode.

The camera work in the final three episodes is impeccable and the flow of the story seems so uncanny because the Indian audience is only now getting used to long shots and single-take narration. Trial By Fire sees emotional and gut-wrenching performances from Abhay Deal and Rajshri Deshpande who both try their best to portray the loss that these parents dealt with.

The show ends with the legal battle reaching a conclusion in 2020, 23 years after the fire. Trial By Fire not only narrates AVUT’s journey for justice over the 59 lives lost but also attempts to highlight how the Krishnamoorthys and the AVUT members were determined to paint a bigger picture for the world by highlighting the Ansals’ greed and their determination to save their own names despite the tragic loss of 59 human lives.

Since the Ansals were – and still are – really influential, the way this show ends makes it seem a little heartbreaking and as a viewer, one may not feel satisfied initially. However, one has to take these cases with a grain of salt and accept it as it is. Trial By Fire is a really good series and a must-watch for those that love true crime documentaries.

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  • Verdict - 9/10

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