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Unpopular Opinion: 5 Reasons I Found Netflix Series Trial By Fire Underwhelming

Why did the makers waste an entire episode on Ratna Pathak Shah and Anupam Kher when their characters weren’t even important in the series? Was it to simply increase the screen timing of the popular actors?

The newly released web series, Trial by Fire (2023), is based on one of the most disastrous and disturbing fire tragedies in India. While the series had the potential to be much more powerful, I personally considered it to be underwhelming. Here are a questions I had while watching it:

Rajshri Deshpande is surely a powerful actor, but was she able to offer the viewers something she hasn’t so far?

Many of us had loved Rajshri Deshpande in Sacred Games (2018-19) and The Fame Game (2022). However, her dialogue delivery had still been critiqued in those web series. Perhaps, that was a creative choice on her part. But, what question is: does the same creative choice work for every character that one is portraying?

Deshpande’s facial expressions and acting remain convincing throughout the series, but her dialogues aren’t as impactful as they need to be. In a scene where she is shown to be giving an interview, her tone is so awkward that it fails to create the desired impact on the viewer.

Were some of the parallel narratives necessary?

Why did the makers waste an entire episode on Ratna Pathak Shah and Anupam Kher when their characters weren’t even important in the series? Was it to simply increase the screen timing of the popular actors? How was this mundane parallel narrative relevant to the plot?

Much like the previously mentioned example, the series is full of numerous irrelevant and uninteresting narratives of characters who never show up again. Why does the audience need to know that the man who had been threatening the AVUT members wanted to use black money to pay for his new house? Or that the male protagonist’s friend did not want to have children? As this review on Scroll.in says, “Some of these digressions are worthwhile, while hold up the real story.”

Was this a courtroom drama or simply a web series about human emotions?

Is Trial by Fire a courtroom drama like Pink (2016) or is it about an actual incident like No One Killed Jessica (2011)?

If the legal aspect matters, why is so much emphasis placed on the protagonists? If the protagonists matter, why are the makers constantly bringing in other characters?

If the human emotions and backgrounds of all the characters are forming the central theme, then why don’t their stories fit together the way they did in Paatal Lok (2020)?

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Who is important in the story?

What is the overall message?

What does the series have to offer in addition to what is already available on Wikipedia?

Why is the last episode a recap of everything?

What is the point of creating a forty minute episode on the events of the day that is being discussed throughout the series?

Do the makers think that the audiences failed to decipher and imagine the things that we heard Rajshri Deshpande say in almost every episode?

Or is it just to give the viewers a recap of everything and bring them back to the original storyline after confusing them with so many unnecessary subplots?

Was that queerbaiting?

In the last episode, two young boys are shown to argue with one another until they are inside the cinema hall and get a chance to hold hands.

If this scene was to be added in the series, why were the boys not shown in any of the previous episodes? Why were we made to spend forty five minutes watching an insignificant heterosexual couple (a.k.a. Kher and Pathak Shah) bicker over the lamest of things when these two boys seem so much more interesting?

Was this scene added just for the sake of some form of vague queer representation?

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About the Author

Upasana Dandona

A dysgraphic writer who spends most of their time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...

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