Trial by Fire: The Captain Who Lost His Life Saving 150 Others in Uphaar Cinema Fire

Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder and his family lost their lives in the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire in Delhi. The captain showed immense bravery and moved 150 people to safety.

‘Trial by Fire’ has been receiving a lot of acclaim since it premiered on Netflix on 13 January 2023. It merits noting that the series is based on a true story, dating back to 1997. 

Known as the Uphaar Cinema Tragedy, the calamity that occurred on 13 June 1997 set the stage for years of legal battles that would ensue. While the Netflix series is shot from the perspective of Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, parents of two of the children who lost their lives in the fire, numerous lives were lost that day and there are multiple versions of what happened and who really is to blame. 

Reports say that the fire was not an accident but a result of mismanagement at the theatre. Earlier that morning, a transformer on the ground floor of the cinema had caught fire but the fire was soon controlled. The transformer suffered damages but since the movie ‘Border’ was to be screened that afternoon, quick repairs were carried out, without taking into account safety aspects. 

As everyone would soon discover, the repairs were not enough and a large fire broke out during the movie screening. A total of 59 people are reported to have died of asphyxiation that day, but the story of one man has stood out. 

Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder of 61 CAVALRY, his wife Jyot-Roop and four-year-old son Ruskin were also at the movie theatre when the tragedy occurred. Without prioritising his own safety, the captain began helping others get to safety and is said to have succeeded in rescuing 150 people. 

However, he along with his family succumbed. Here’s a glimpse into the braveheart’s life. 

Edited by Asha Prakash