‘Trial by Fire’ Ending Explained: What Really Happened on the Day of the Fire?

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Welcome to the Ending Explained for Trial By Fire, a new Netflix TV series based on the tragedy that happened on Friday, June 13, 1997. Also known as the Uphaar Cinema fire. In it, more than 900 people entered a cinema hall, and by the end of the day, more than 59 people died of asphyxiation. While hundreds were wounded by the fire, the smoke, and the terrible stampede that occurred when people tried to exit the building. It is one of the greatest public tragedies in India, and the subsequent trial against the people in charge of the cinema was just as awful.

The tragedy really undercovered the lack of public safety when it came to fires in Indian buildings. It also revealed the lack of public safety regulations and how the few regulations that were in place were not really enforced, putting the public’s safety at risk. The entire affair is a tale filled with tragedy, loss, grief, corruption, entitlement, and more. The series does a very good job of showing the sides of the situation, and in the final hours, it goes into haunting territory as it depicts what happened to the people that day in the cinema.

The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Trial By Fire. Read at your own risk.

What Really Happened On The Day Of The Fire?

Knowing what exactly happened that day is a bit difficult. Human memory is quite fuzzy, and sometimes we just want to remember what we want in the way in want. So, Nair, and his team of filmmakers must do a bit of jumping around with the facts and fill the holes with quite dramatic touches that can help the narrative become something more special and captivating for audiences. In this opportunity, the director chooses to go back in time to the last episode of the season and really show what happened that day.

We see that the verdict has been given, and the Ansals are basically sentenced to one year in prison, and to pay some money, which is nothing to them. Especially because, thanks to their money, they will also avoid going to jail completely. Let’s remember that this verdict was given in 2007. Which means 20 years after the tragedy at the cinema. It is here that the series cuts to Neelam and her indignation in the face of such a verdict. From there, the episode cuts back to June 13, 1997, and we see Neelam’s children getting ready to go to the cinema to see a movie called Border.

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We see how the people buy their tickets and enter the Uphaar cinema. Knowing what is about to happen makes everything really haunting. We see the manager of the cinema attending to some VIP guests from the Ansals in the lobby, and we see an attendant leading them to the infamous VIP Box, upstairs. Meanwhile, Neelam’s kids arrive and are wondering where their friend is. They leave his ticket on the counter, as they don’t want to lose the trailers.

It is here that we see that some attendants let people enter the cinema without a ticket. They charged for the entry on the side, of course. The manager warns them that if he finds someone without a ticket, he will take money from the attendants. One attendant interprets the order and does the following: He puts a padlock on the door to the cinema hall. Basically capturing the audience inside. As we go to the basement, we see the faulty transformers that ignited the fire, and from there, pandemonium ensues with people trying to escape the hall but being unable to.

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What Happened In The Aftermath Of The Fire?

As the series very well shows, the case against the Ansals, the verdict against them, and the public safety conditions in India were all matters that took a long time to solve. Neelam and Shekhar basically pour their lives into the case against these rich men, who showed that in India, if you have money, then you receive special treatment. You can get absolved of many terrible crimes if you have the money to pay the right person. It is a truly terrible reality, but it is one that the show doesn’t shy away from.

It is no wonder that in real life, the Ansals didn’t want this miniseries to be shown in cinemas, as it was the plan. They succeeded by appealing to the Indian court and having tons of money to make it happen. In the end, it is a futile power move, as the series will be released on Netflix and many millions of people will be able to see it. The series also shows how, 25 years after the Uphaar fire, the Ansals were finally convicted. Not for the fire itself, but for having tampered evidence.

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The Ansals couldn’t look any more guilty by tampering with evidence that would make them responsible for the cinema functions during the time the fire happened. They made some documents disappear to make it seem as if they were not involved with the cinema at the time. The evidence found against them was so clear that there was no other solution but to sentence them to seven years in jail. However, as we said before, having money gets you special treatment, and so they were released after only six months in jail.

The battle against the Ansals and their money seems like a lost cause, but thankfully, there is more to this case than just that. Neelam and Shekhar’s fight has brought some actual and real changes to the situation of public safety in India, with several reforms on how the safety measures are enforced and being pushed by them and their organizations. Even after so much pain, they managed to do something good for their country and saved many lives in the process.

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