‘The Railway Men’: Cast & Crew
Director: Shiv Rawail
Cast: R Madhavan, Kay Kay Menon, Divyendu Sharma, Babil Khan, Philip Rosch, Connor Keene, Priitamm Jaiswal, Sunny Hinduja, Juhi Chawla, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Raghubir Yadav, Mandira Bedi
Available On: Netflix
Duration: 4 Episodes, Around An Hour Each
‘The Railway Men’: Story
After a deadly gas leak from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, brave railway workers risk their lives to save others in the face of an unspeakable disaster. Will they be able to avert the disaster from happening? Will they be able to save any lives? Will they themselves get caught up in the middle of the disaster? Will the gas leak get stopped anyhow? Well, for all that, you’ll have to watch ‘The Railway Men’.
‘The Railway Men’: Performances
Kay Kay Menon is the star of the show. The way he emulates every nuance, every emotion, and every dialogue makes you feel like he isn’t playing a character but rather that he himself is that person in real life. Getting that level of conviction in one’s performance is a stupendous feat.
Babil Khan needs to be lauded for playing such a layered character with so much faith that it persuades you to believe that yes there are people that good in the world. His nonchalant dialogue delivery, which was so evident in his father Irrfan Khan, can be seen even in him. He doesn’t push too hard to make the character likeable, and with that little effort, he makes you feel for the character’s innocence at heart. Also, he gets the dialect of the localities of Bhopal so brilliantly that you start feeling like he is actually from there.
Divyendu Sharma tries to play a street-smart character and does deservedly well. However, there is a sinister angle to his character, which, unfortunately, he isn’t able to bring out that well onscreen. I agree that the character has a transformation of heart at the end, but the negative intent that he had from the start should have been depicted more in his dialogues or body language, which was missing.
Dibyendu Bhattacharya may have a smaller screen time but his performance at the start of the show is so powerful that it leaves an impact throughout. His expressions are subtle but convey the emotions going through so beautifully that you’re left in awe of the performance.
Sunny Hinduja once again comes up with a poignant character. He has fewer dialogues, but his body language speaks volumes of what ideal journalistic ethics feel like.
R Madhavan was promoted as the main face of the project, but sadly, he came in too late into the show. His character has the smallest screen time in comparison to the other leads. He does give a powerful performance in that small screen space, but it felt like an actor of his calibre was wasted in such a small role.
Raghubir Yadav is a scene-stealer. In such a small part he has absolutely taken away all the attention. He is there in maybe just 5-6 long scenes but even in that he makes his presence felt and gets the audience interested in his storyline as well.
Juhi Chawla and Mandira Bedi have really small characters to even warrant a mention.
‘The Railway Men’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects
Aayush Gupta and Shiv Rawail’s writing is so detailed and elaborate that it gives you the perfect backdrop and feel of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. From the minutest of details on how the colonies looked like in 1984 to getting the aftereffects of inhaling the deadly gas on the faces of the characters was presented with utter perfection. Also, what’s great about the writing was the amount of in-depth research they’ve done in order to amalgamate real-life footage, newspaper clippings, etc into the narrative that they’ve shot. Shiv Rawail’s direction needs to be complimented for keeping the seamless nature of the narrative intact.
Rubais’ cinematography also needs to be complimented for its brilliant attention to detail. The precision with which he has got the locales right, and coupled it with beautiful long-distance and overhead shots gets you hooked to the beauty of the story. What’s so good about the visuals is that you’re able to witness the city from 1984 but the outlook doesn’t look dated. Even if it is a period drama, you’re still visualising it in modern-day methods and that gives you a very authentic screen view of the scenario.
Yasha Ramchandani’s editing is dept and crisp. She has made sure that the story doesn’t sag at any point and you’re kept on your hooks till the last scene is doled out. Keeping the episodes lengthy can usually backfire as the story starts to get boring in the middle, but she ensured that the narrative remains interesting throughout even if the episodes are lengthy. Also, making sure that the audiences aren’t caught up in the intricacies of the story for too long, she has made sure that the story beautifully gets a closure by the end of the 4th episode, and you don’t have to drag it to 8 episodes, which is the usual length of a web series in today’s times.
Sam Slater’s music and background score create the necessary anguish of tragedy impeccably onscreen. From getting the chugging sounds of the locomotives right to the simple ticking of a railway clock to the bleak sounds of the railway announcements, everything was spot on.
‘The Railway Men’: Can Kids Watch It?
‘The Railway Men’ is a brilliant piece of work and a very heartfelt narration of the tragic tale of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The performances are top notch and so is the cinematography. It makes you feel the pain and pathos of the people who were present in Bhopal during that time. It’s definitely a Must Watch. I am going with 4.5 stars.