‘Trial By Fire’ Episode 4: Recap And Ending, Explained: What Happens After Neelam’s Statement In Court?

In a fallacy of the Indian judicial system, Sushil Ansal, one of the prime accused in the Uphaar cinema hall fire in Delhi on June 13, 1997, was released within a few months of his arrest in Episode 3 of Netflix’s “Trial by Fire.” As if this blatant disregard for the lives of the 59 people who died inside the hall on that fateful day by letting the criminals walk freely wasn’t enough, thugs on their payroll assaulted anyone who tried going against the almighty Ansals. The only line of defense seeking justice for the victims of the Uphaar fire were the members of the Association for the Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (A.V.U.T.), with Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy at its head. Neelam and Shekhar lost their teenage children, Ujjwal and Unnati, in the fire and took it upon themselves to bring the accused to justice. With the third episode of “Trial by Fire” ending on a painful note, the family members of the victims light candles while shedding tears in memory of the ones they lost, while the accused and their associates can be seen celebrating. Here’s what follows next.

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Spoilers Ahead


The Growing Frustration

Eighteen months have passed since the Uphaar cinema hall burned down, and “Trial by Fire” Episode 4 opens in a courtroom where an experienced lawyer presents a rather motivated opening statement in support of his clients, the Ansals. Not only does he present the primary accused in an angelic light by listing the many great things they have done to help Delhi and its residents, but he also vilifies the members of A.V.U.T. for trying to cause such issues in the Ansals’ lives. In response, prosecution lawyer Gaur tries to present an advertisement that is barely legible and makes an even weaker argument with it. The judge rejects the document and strongly advises the prosecution to bring in documents that are at least legible. The defense lawyer smiles as the court gives a future date; Gaur fumbles in confusion. On the following date, Neeraj Suri walks into court, where Gaur is questioning the Delhi Vidyut Board supervisor, but the defense lawyer pokes holes in his weak questions. Visibly flustered in the face, Gaur hands the witness over to the defense lawyer, who quickly connects a string of clues to strengthen the case in their favor. Meanwhile, Mrs. Verma, a member of A.V.U.T., doesn’t show up, and we learn that she, along with the rest of the members, is constantly being threatened by paid thugs. That night, as Neelam’s interview with the media against the injustice they’ve faced is broadcast on television, they discuss getting another lawyer.

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The following day, Neelam arrives at the records room and tries sorting through the massive pile of documents herself. Shekhar returns to find their entire bedroom littered with papers and files, and they’re greeted by their neighbor Shalini downstairs while Suri spies on the unsuspecting couple. Shekhar is buying a printer at the market for all the paperwork they’ll be needing when he realizes that Suri is following him. A chase ensues, and Shekhar initially rushes into the washroom, entrusting the printer with a shopkeeper. However, he soon finds courage and steps out with determination but doesn’t find Suri. He does find the same photograph of his children that he had sent Suri, but this time, the crumpled photograph carries a foreboding warning that Shekhar’s life is at risk. Neelam diligently marks areas in the documents that she finds suspicious or could point toward the Ansals and brings them to Gaur, who seems more concerned that he spilled tea on his shoes and clothes. In the courtroom, Gaur’s dispassionate questions and lack of order in his approach earn him the annoyance of the judge and the ire of Neelam, who makes up her mind to deal with his incompetence, while Shekhar takes another look at the crumpled photograph with Suri’s warning.

At the next hearing, the defense lawyer quickly establishes that all the fault for the accident lies with the D.B.V. and that the Uphaar board of management is not responsible for it in the slightest, while Gaur doesn’t even lift a finger in objection. He continues about how deeply disturbed the Ansals are at this attempt to malign them when Neelam’s frustration gives way, and she screams her opinion. The judge asks Gaur to handle his client. At the canteen, Gaur tells Neelam that they might lose the case because of her outburst while digging into a roll. Pushed to the limit by his incompetence, she demands of him that he care for the ones who lost their lives in the fire and empties her soda bottle on his plate before storming off. Something changes in him, and the next time inside the court, Gaur provides a passionate speech about how the cinema hall is supposed to be the one safe space where the moviegoers believe that no harm shall befall them. He then proceeds to grill Arora, the Uphaar manager, and references the footage from “Trial by Fire” Episode 1, where he can be seen carrying a bag. Gaur establishes that Arora chose to deliver the money to the bosses when the cinema hall was on fire, and the lives of the people were in mortal danger. The defense counsel requests to add Neelam as a witness. Gaur forbids Neelam to be a witness, but she’s adamant about telling her side of the story. Gaur tells Shekhar to handle this because he will not take any part of it. Just when you thought he’d show some spirit and spine, for that matter. 

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Neelam is at Shalini’s place for a haircut when Shalini suggests that Gaur might be right. However, Neelam refutes her and expresses her disbelief about what scares people so much. It’s as if she might hit the defense lawyer Ram on the head with the judge’s gavel out of anger. Suri returns home and is told that his ‘friend’ is waiting for him, only to find Shekhar enjoying a video game with his son. Suri shoos his son out of the room and tells Shekhar that he made a mistake coming to his home, to which Shekhar replies that Suri isn’t the only one who can locate people. Before leaving, he adds that he knows how Suri has harmed the other members of the group and questions how far he will go to keep the A.V.U.T. members from seeking justice. Suri is shocked to find that his son overheard his crimes, and Shekhar informs him that he’s lucky that he still has his son alive and well.


A Day In The Life Of An Uphaar Employee

We’re taken back to the day the Uphaar tragedy happened in flashback and introduced to a character who’s being chased from his house by two men who are looking for him. He barely escapes and enters an eatery, where he calls someone named Vinod, and the argument over money he owes Vinod quickly turns heated. As it turns out, this good-for-nothing charlatan borrowed money from Vinod, his brother-in-law, and is now unable to pay. Quite a few scenes focus on his attempts to get Vinod to back off by making a scene in front of his sister’s shop and being chased by the guys sent by him—all that work to establish him as a loafer. He calls Vinod from a phone booth and tells him to send his people to collect his dues at 6 p.m. before walking into Uphaar Cinema and changing into his uniform. Arora asks him to take his special guests—Chinese friends of the Ansals—to the box and warns him not to let anyone without tickets through. This triggers the fated decision of why the employees lock the door of the balcony from the outside – the primary reason why the people suffocated to death that day. 

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In a riveting scene, we’re shown what was happening inside the hall on June 13, 1997, as several people banged on the door fruitlessly, pleading to be let out. The cinema hall employee is seen being rescued by the fire brigade, and his usual demeanor of careless confidence has been replaced by one of shocked silence. People run here and there as parents drag their unconscious children to cars, while Arora can be seen gingerly making his way through the crowd, bag in hand. He makes his way into an alley and takes a look at a necklace when Vinod’s thugs catch up to him and snatch the necklace after serving him a beating.


Neelam’s Statement 

Shekhar prepares Neelam for her court appearance the following day, and at court, she meets Amrita Singh, an understudy for Senior Counsel Mahesh Karve, who wishes her luck and advises her to contact Karve. Amrita, too, has lost someone close to her in the Uphaar tragedy. Inside the courtroom, defense lawyer Ram Keswani’s colleague verbally attacks Neelam and insinuates that all her interviews, court appearances, and media presence are an attempt to gain sympathy, fame, and financial gain. She clarifies that the Ansals, reputed businessmen of the city, are completely innocent of the crime and that Neelam has muddled the line between seeking justice and revenge. The counsel questions Neelam’s sanity, given all the plastic smiles plastered on her face, and waves a statement from Shalini Aggarwal, who has testified that Neelam coerced her into going to a wedding, where she made a scene. She argues that she was in shock at that time, to which the shrewd counsel questions her if she feels alright now, given how she stated that she might attack Keswani with the judge’s gavel in confidence to Shalini. However, Neelam doesn’t skip a beat and states that her children died because of smoke inhalation because the Uphaar management kept the doors locked. Aside from the lack of sympathy from the Ansals, who were more concerned with their profits, they also posted an ad separating themselves from the entire accident. Despite every major source finding the Ansals responsible for the accident, they made no bones about apologizing. In such conditions, Neelam and the other members aren’t mad or in the wrong to turn to the court to find justice. There’s utter silence in the court as everyone from Keswani to Gaur feels compelled to find truth in Neelam’s statement. The Uphaar employee quietly walks up to the place where the memorial is being held and leaves the necklace.


‘Trial By Fire’ Episode 4: Ending 

The fourth episode of “Trial by Fire” exhibits the sorry state of the Indian judicial system and the government-appointed prosecutors like Gaur, who can hardly form a sentence without fidgeting and floundering. Had the case been better prepared from the start, or if Gaur had been more competent, the case could have turned in the A.V.U.T. members’ favor long ago. Although Neelam’s prodding nudges Gaur in the right direction, it’s short-lived, as the most resounding statement is made by Neelam herself. The pointed and malicious comments made by the defense counsel shed light on how the lawyers try to malign the image of the people who seek justice and try to villainize them. We also learn about the true nature of her neighbor, Shalini, who approached her as a friend but ended up providing the defense with confidential information. It can be assumed that she was paid by Suri for her assistance, but there’s no guarantee of that. Suri himself learns to count his blessings after Shekhar visits his home and is reminded of all the ways he had tormented the hapless family members of the victims. The side story about the nameless Uphaar cinema hall employee doesn’t have any major connection to the main story other than giving an inside look into what happened on the fateful day when the hall caught fire. The necklace that he leaves probably belongs to Unnati, given how her mother searched for the necklace in “Trial by Fire” Episode 1. However, it’s unclear as to how he came to possess the necklace, and only after going through the next episodes will it become clear.


Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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