Directed by Kevin Luperchio and Prashant Nair, Netflix’ Trial By Fire began streaming on the 13th of January. It stars the likes of Abhay Deol, Rajshri Deshpande, Shilpa Shukla, Ratna Pathak and Anupam Kher. The limited series is based on a book by Shekhar and Neelam Krishnamoorthy describing the devastating loss of their children to the Uphaar Cinema tragedy.
The wide praise and recognition that the series has been getting definitely has a lot to do with Rajshri Deshpande’s brilliant performance as Neelam Krishnamoorthy. Deshpande plays a grieving mother who follows her gut instinct to investigate and fight for the justice of her children’s unfortunate passing away in a fire.
What makes Rajshri Deshpande’s performance so captivating is her ability to convince the audience of how a mother’s instinct and intuition can be so astute that it can lead people to the truth and a just outcome.
At first, Neelam’s anxiety and suspicion regarding the cinema fire seems unsettling because it appears as though she is in shock and so her actions are difficult to trust. But the slow and very natural transition of her figuring out loopholes in the situation was performed so well, and with so much smoothness by Rajshri, that it was clear she has incredible talent within the first 25 minutes of the show.
Previously seen in Sexy Durga, Mumbai Central, Angry Indian Goddesses, The Fame Game, Sacred Games, Mcmafia and Manto, Deshpande has consistently shown us that she can take on various kinds of roles. And by essaying the role of Neelam Krishnamoorthy, she has only solidified the audience’ belief in her talent.
Krishnamoorthy’s unwavering need to hold the owners of the theatre accountable for the seriously devastating loss of not just her own children, but the loved ones of many families struck a chord with most of us. Grief is a complex emotion, and it’s even more complex to convey, but it seems Rajshri conveyed it almost flawlessly.
And the fact that she depicted the tiresome, decade-long journey that Neelam Krishnamoorthy went through, collecting evidence and staying true to herself so, so well is unforgettable. She definitely deserves all kinds of recognition for this!
Rajshri Deshpande’s portrayal of Neelam Krishnamoorthy is realistic, full of bravery and grit. Which is why we’d love to see more of her onscreen!