Sometimes, Saturdays can be refreshing too, on Netflix. Yes, unlike most creations, The Railway Men came to Netflix on a Saturday.
An Indian show, it is loosely based on real events arising out of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984.
It was an awkward day and I was already busy with some ‘just weekend things.’
However, the four-episode-long show had a certain allure associated with it that couldn’t keep me away for long.
The ominous series is originally shot in Hindi but is available to watch in five other dubbed languages. Moreover, The Railway Men is four hours in length.
Here is my review.
The Railway Men Synopsis
It relives the fatal Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984 and brings to the fore a set of unsung heroes from Indian Railways who gave it their all to save thousands of lives.
Directed by Shiv Rawail, The Railway Men stars Kay Kay Menon (Iftekaar Siddiqui), Sunny Hinduja (Jagmohan Kumawat), Babil Khan (Imad Riaz), Divyendu (Constable/Balwant Yadav), Dibyendu Bhattacharya (Kamruddin), and R Madhavan (Rati Pandey).
It also features Juhi Chawla in a cameo.
What Works for The Railway Men?
I sometimes see movies releasing with the tagline, “based on an incredibly true story.”
The Railway Men stands as a genuine embodiment of this catchphrase, portraying a harrowing event with unparalleled finesse.
Set against the backdrop of the devastating 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, a catastrophe stemming from the long-standing negligence of the Union Carbide company, the film masterfully unfolds the fatal release of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas.
As Bhopal cries out for urgent aid, the deafening silence from authorities exacerbates the calamity.
Lives are lost, the government distances itself, hospitals overflow, and the perpetrators exhibit no remorse.
In this dreadful scenario, a tiny ray of hope appears at the Bhopal Junction, led by Iftekaar Siddiqui, the virtuous station master.
For me, the only issue prior to the release of The Railway Men was whether the makers would be able to maintain sensitivity because they had chosen a seriously traumatic theme.
Over 15000 people had died due to the gas leak in Bhopal. A minor snag in empathy would have broken the hearts of everyone even minutely associated with the horror.
But the creators have done a splendid job in this aspect. From the trigger to the conclusion, everything has been taken care of.
The compelling narrative of corporate carelessness renders a brilliantly tantalizing viewing experience.
The Railway Men creates a healthy background for various characters before venturing into D-Day.
Even though it is a conventional practice, the sequences generate curiosity and never feel lame. Moreover, the drama in the tale is ferocious.
It enthralls and fills you with emotional goosebumps, helped by the devastating visuals of the aftermath that send shivers down the spine.
After you start streaming The Railway Men, your heart will run faster than you can imagine. That’s how gripping it is.
Furthermore, the screenplay is ominous yet thrilling. Throughout the narrative, you’d be heartbroken, undoubtedly.
But you’d also be inspired by the heroics of the railwaymen who saved thousands of lives that day.
Their coordinated efforts will motivate you to be on the right side and do the needful even in adversity.
I loved the background score as well in addition to the fine cinematography. Both these features push the marvelous series ahead.
Ultimately, The Railway Men not only recounts a tragic tale but imparts a vital lesson: the importance of vigilance, questioning authority, and safeguarding the environment.
It’s a call to never yield to power and to cherish every breath we take.
How are the Performances?
The legend of Kay Kay Menon has another role to be proud of. Playing Iftikaar Siddiqui, he nurtures a towering mien and strategically explores it using his impeccable acting skills.
His vocal intonations don’t have a rival yet in the Indian film industry. Menon is alone a compelling force to watch on the screen, whether big or small.
This time around, the script was there to elevate his aura to an unimaginable height.
Babil Khan, in his third major outing (I think), grows further as an onscreen actor. The writing helps him in connecting with the audience on a much deeper level.
His hold on the Bhopali accent is amazing. Khan uses his masked expressions to their peak, allowing for an honest and humane portrayal of an unsung hero.
Sunny Hinduja continues his glorious run at the movies. After amazing recent performances, he plays a gritty journalist in The Railway Men.
The Bhopali accent once again comes out seamlessly from him. Hinduja reflects the fighting spirit we need at all times. He is convincing and extremely determined on the screen.
Divyendu plays a free-flowing con. We don’t get to witness such characters in a natural manner.
He makes you believe in the transformation through his authentic, casual, and light performance.
However, the minute the plot demands fierceness, he rises to the occasion. Divyendu is a non-methodical stalwart who deserves such significant roles.
R Madhavan plays Rati Pandey, a courageous, no-nonsense Railway officer. His late arrival in the narrative ensures The Railway Men doesn’t run out of steam.
He guides a certain part of the story, evokes strong emotions, and inspires the viewers.
What Doesn’t Work for The Railway Men?
There are no flaws in the show. I had almost made up my mind to give the 2023 Hindi series crown to Kaala Paani but The Railway Men might just steal it.
Just stretching my hands a bit, I want to point out one thing that the series could have covered.
The makers show political unwillingness on the part of the central government, even going all the way to the Prime Minister’s Office.
However, they never put the state government in the spotlight. What were they doing? Where was the CM?
Why was the facility allowed to be set up in a populated area? These things could not have been approved without the consent of the state government.
Stream or Skip?
In all fairness, it’s a must-watch. Don’t think twice.
Is The Railway Men Based on a True Story?
Yes, the Railway Men draws inspiration from a real life story. Most of the characters were present when, in 1984, the Bhopal Junction became a place of survival.
Which Characters are Fictional in The Railway Men?
The character played by Divyendu is fictional. He has been added to the tale for cinematic purposes. Also, most of the things (not all) shown regarding Gorakhpur Express never really happened.