Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Railway Men

 The Bhopal disaster has been described as the world's worst industrial disaster.  It set off a long legal wrangle.  It all started on December 2, 1984 when there was a dangerous chemical leak with the Union Carbide plant.  Over 600,000 were exposed to the chemical that nobody knew how to deal with.  Accounts differ regarding the number who died at the time, but many more died from injuries or were disabled afterwards. 

The series available dubbed or subtitled on Netflix. tries to depict some background.  Poor equipment maintenance and that there had been a warning about a possible catastrophe.  The Union Carbide factory was located in the middle of a large city about 800,000 people at the time.  Union Carbide tried to brush off the seriousness.  People dying on contact with one dramatic example of a medical person trying to apply mouth to mouth resuscitation dying within seconds.  Panic and desperation were in all directions.

There were courageous railway people who despite contrary orders came to Bhopal to help.  Others tried to coverup their role in the disaster.  Apparently a toxicologist did bring an antidote, but was sent away.

A top notch cast and crew make it seem real.

Shiv Rawail was director and dialogue writer.  Before directing this film he had 3 credits as an assistant director; including "Dhoom 3" (2013), "Befikre" (2016) and "Fan" (2018).

Ayush Gupta was the main writer.  He has two film credits.

Aditya Chopra was a key executive producer.  Aditya Chopra is a name attached to many enjoyable Bollywood movies, often as a director or writer.  At age 23 his first directing and writing effort was the longest running movie "Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge."   He comes by it honestly as his father was the well established Yash Chopra.  Aditya also got my attention as he married Rani Mukerji,   He has continued to write and direct. but is now more involved in producing where in a sense he is even more creative.   With 84 credits producing hits include "Mohabbatein" (2000),  "Veer-Zaara" (2006) "Fanaa" (2006), "Rab Ne Bana  Di Jodi"  (2008), "Sultan" (2016) and "Fan" (2016). 

Sam Slater, is a sound designer and provides music. .He has won two Grammy awards.  Some of his credits include "Mother!" (2017),  "Chernobyl" (2019), "Joker" (2019) and "Women Talking" (2022).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/04/chernobyl.html

Ankit and Sanchit Balhara provided some music.  Their credits include "Padmaavat" (2018),          "Panga" (2020), "Gangubai Kathiawadi" (2022) and "Pathaan" (2023). 

Rubais, the cinematograher has 7 film credits.

Yasha Ramchandani, editor   She has 17 film credits including "Article 15" (2019), "Thappad" (2020) and "Anek" (2022).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/09/article-15.html

Kay Kay Menon played the station manager in Bhopal.  He has a degree in physics as well as an M.B.A.  He started his career in advertising, but soon got involved in theatre, television and films.  He has been in films in Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, and Telegu.  His film credits include   "Bhopal Express" (1999), "Main, Meri Patni...Aur Woh" (2005), "Gulaal" )2007)  "Sarkar Raj" (2008), "Mumbai Meri Jaan" (2008),  " (2015), "Rahasya" (2015) "The Ghazi Attack" (2017) and "Farzi" (2023).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/03/farzi-or-fakes.html

Madhavan plays a conscientious manager about to be let go.  At age 18 his college entrusted him as cultural ambassador to Canada representing India.  He had won national public speaking awards and is fluent in English, Hindi and Tamil.  He has appeared in such other films as "Rang de Basanti" (2006), "Guru" (2007) and "3 Idiots" (2009) which were all exceptional movies.   Another film was the American, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" (2012).  My first awareness of him was with "Kannathil Mutthamthal" (A Peck on the Cheek) (2002), but I assumed it was a Bollywood film and much later learned it was a Tamil film, opening another door for me.   See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/11/dhokha.html           

Juhi Chawla played another conscientious rail manager.  She is very deft with comedy, but has also done well in dramatic roles.  She is very subtle, which might be appreciated when she does charades both at a party, but also jailside.  As a former Miss India she once played the romantic lead in a number of movies.  Her hits include "Yes Boss" (1997), "Duplicate" (1998),  "3 Deewarein" (2003) "My Brother...Nikhil" ( 2005) "Ventilator" (2018), Ek Ladki Ko Dekha TohAisa Laga" (2019 and "Sharmaji Namkeen" (2022).  She formed a partnership with Shah Rukh Khah that led to Red Chillies Entertainment.  Lately her talents seem to be used mostly in comic roles, although she had had some involvement as a producer and has selected some socially relevant roles.  Her presence is a good reason to watch a film.  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/07/ventilator-serious-movie-with-comic.html

Divendu Sharma played a character known as Constable.  He graduated from university with a degree in political science.  Before movies he appeared in ads.  He has 28 film credits including "Paar Ka Punchnama" (2011) and "Toilet:  A Love Story" (2017).

Babil Khan played one of the railway men.  He had bit roles in "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008) and "Life of Pi" (2012)that starred his father Irrfan Khan.  He was a camera assistant for "Qarib Qarib Single" (2017).  He has 3 film credits including "Qala" (2022).

Philip Rosch played a Union Carbide manager  who tried to cover up the disaster very meanly.  He has 61 film credits including "The 100 year old man who climbed out the window" (2013) and "Florence Foster Jenkins" (2016).

Connor Keene played an American toxicologist who was ignored by Indian authorities.

In this world run by corporations there is always danger of a disaster, but films such as this set up counter measures.  Well done.

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