‘Trial By Fire’ Episode 5: Recap & Ending, Explained: Vices Of Youth Distract Shekhar While AVUT Has A Breakthrough

Two separate stories from the fifth episode of Netflix’s 2023 release, “Trial by Fire.” The last we saw of Shekhar and Neelam Krishnamoorthy was in a court of law, 18 months after the Uphaar cinema hall fire that claimed the lives of 59 people, including the teenage children of the couple. In “Trial by Fire” Episode 4, Neelam delivered a moving speech about how the Ansal Brothers are responsible for the deaths of her children and how they have not bothered to say one word of sympathy since the events. The fifth episode of “Trial by Fire” opens with a black-and-white clipping of an army award ceremony where Hardeep Singh Bedi, the captain of the 4th Mountain Division, is awarded for his courage and passion in the Asal Uttar battle as his pregnant wife watches on.

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Spoilers Ahead


Regrets Of The Past

“Trial by Fire” Episode 5 begins on the morning of the Uphaar tragedy in 1997, as Hardeep (Anupam Kher), now a senior citizen, sits distractedly while the morning radio announces the release of J.P. Nair’s “Border” movie. At a card game with their friends, Hardeep doesn’t pay attention and loses, frustrating Mrs. Bedi (Ratna Pathak). On returning home, she asks what’s bothering him, and he offers her a newspaper with the “Border” poster. Upon being questioned on why he is acting weird, Hardeep finally announces that over the years, he has suffered from regret that he wasn’t at the 1971 Indo-Pak war. She visits her daughter in her office, where she’s greeted by Amrita who was a lot younger back then. At squash practice, Hardeep and his friend Khushwant are laughed at by some young boys. Irritated, Hardeep challenges them to a squash match, and they’re badly defeated. Elsewhere, Mrs. Bedi is in a painting class, where the teacher applauds her painting. At home, the husband and wife get into a massive fight where he complains how he lost his only chance at earning the honor, while she argues how there’s so much in her life that she wanted to achieve but never could, and lost the one shot she had at being happy. They start comparing all the things they gave each other, and it turns ugly.

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A while later, the two finally apologize and make up. Hardeep asks if Mrs. Bedi wants to go watch “Border” with him, and she agrees. Mr. and Mrs. Bedi get ready and leave for the movie as the maid closes the door behind them.


Shekhar Meets An Old Friend

The other story is that of Neelam and Shekhar, nine years after the tragedy that changed their lives forever. The court case is still on, and the criminals are still roaming free. The defense lawyer, Ram Keswani, is still arguing for his client’s side, although the prosecution is backed up by the stronger lawyer, Mahesh Karve. The prosecution presents several signed checks dating back to 1994, while Keswani argues that the Ansals had signed over the rights to Uphaar Cinema Hall back in 1989. The judge orders the prosecution to find more recent documents and adjourns the court. Neelam watches as Karve shakes hands with Keswani. On her way out of court, a man verbally attacks her for sending Veer Singh to jail and screams expletives at her before being taken away by a policeman. At home, Neelam doesn’t mention the incident with the foul-mouthed man and instead refuses to have dinner. At a college, Shekhar, now visibly older, points out the layout of the Uphaar cinema hall to a professor, pointing out how all but one door were closed on the day of the fire. Through discussion, the appalling state of the cinema hall comes to light, with blocked exits, non-functioning A.C. vents, and a completely packed hall adding to the dangers. On his way out, Shekhar meets Abhishek, an old friend and a resident of the U.S.A., who invites him to tea. Begrudgingly, Shekhar accepts while Neelam and Amrita Singh continue searching for the checks that point toward the Ansals’ involvement.

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Shekhar and Abhishek catch up on old times over chai when Abhishek informs them that he has returned to India after 25 years, and when asked if he has a wife and kids of his own, Shekhar silently shakes his head. Shekhar returns home to find his bedroom swamped in papers as Neelam and Amrita go through a heap of documents, and Amrita is finally able to locate the photocopies of the checks they had been looking for. In the evidence room, the two women have to go through an enormous pile of documents that have been gathered over the past ten years and haven’t been sorted once. Neelam calls Shekhar to help them out, who rejects the calls because he’s out drinking with his friend Abhishek. After downing a few glasses of beer, Shekhar hints at the way corruption has kept them from receiving justice by talking about the systemic way corruption reigns in India.


The Landmark Discovery

Amrita makes the startling discovery that a few important forms are missing, and a page has been torn out as well. She also finds that the date when Form 32—a document signed when a company brings in some change—was signed when the Ansals resigned doesn’t add up with the date they told the court. While the court was made aware that the Ansals resigned in February 1997, the forms point out that they resigned on June 16, 1997—three days after the Uphaar fire tragedy. This immediately points out that the defense team has tampered with the evidence, and this could be a momentous decision for the case. Neelam suggests that they should discuss this with Karve. They approach Karve and try showing how this is a clear case of evidence tampering, but Karve seems more worried about how this’ll sour his relationship with the C.B.I. Amrita is about to argue further, but Neelam stops her. At night, Shekhar comes home drunk, and Neelam realizes that he isn’t paying attention to the tasks he has to complete. In the morning, Shekhar dresses sharply, appears to be in a cheerful mood, asks if he’s needed in the A.V.U.T. meeting, and upon learning that Neelam will manage, leaves. She does call for him on second thought, but he has left by then. He meets Abhishek for drinks, who asks if he has plans for later. Neelam meets Amrita for lunch, where the young lawyer expresses her frustration over Karve’s practice. Shekhar and Abhishek are in a car, and Shekhar is too drunk to care where Abhishek is taking him. As it turns out, Abhishek plans to watch a movie at a cinema, and immediately, Abhishek starts sobering up as reality hits. At the A.V.U.T. meeting, a member shares how he lost his wife in the fire, while K.T.S. Tulsi gives Neelam and Amrita two options. They can either approach the high court with the case of tampered evidence or continue with the case as is. He also states that the decade-long case has become much larger than just the Ansals, and they can now convict criminals in any other case of neglecting public safety.

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At the theater, the movie starts, but Shekhar starts feeling uneasy while Abhishek has no clue why. After a bout of unease and anxiety, he gets up and leaves the theater, where he joins Neelam at the A.V.U.T. meeting. He holds her hand to let her know that he’s with her and will remain with her. Neelam raises the two choices in front of the members: either let the initial case continue as it is or raise a new case of tampering with evidence. While the latter will surely send the criminals to jail, the first will guarantee that every institution and organization is forced to take public safety into consideration and avoid events like the Uphaar tragedy from happening in the future. Every member raises their hands in favor of Option A.


‘Trial By Fire’ Episode 5: Ending 

The fifth episode of “Trial by Fire” presents how years of chasing the same thing can tire out an individual and that they might want to try something new. This stands true in both the cases of Shekhar and Hardeep Bedi—both men who have been obsessing over something for years. While for Shekhar it’s bringing his children’s killers to justice, for Bedi, it is not being able to fight in the war. However, we haven’t taken into consideration how the same years have been for the respective spouses of the two men. While Mrs. Bedi sacrificed her dreams and wishes to be with Hardeep, Neelam spent ten years of her life collecting proof and gathering documents that would finally pin the Uphaar tragedy on the Ansal brothers. It can be stated that for a while, Shekhar enjoyed Abhishek’s presence because he was a fun distraction from the repeated trips to the court, A.V.U.T. meetings, and discussing the same case over and over again. Thus, drinking beer and joking with his friend kept him happy. However, upon arriving at the cinema hall, he realized that he was ignoring his wife, who had spent a decade fighting for justice, and the time for distractions was over. He returns to be with his wife, abandoning the alcohol and carelessness that Abhishek brought. On the other hand, Hardeep Bedi finally let’s go of his obsession over missing his chance to go to war and makes peace with his wife, then heads to the Uphaar cinema. However, their fate isn’t clarified in “Trial by Fire” Episode 5.


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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