What is the cost of lies? Lies to cover-up the worst nuclear disaster ever in human history? What is the human value equivalent of that loss? Well the official Soviet numbers are still pegged at 31! The actual number for an incident that happened more than three decades ago could be anything between 4,000 to 96,000 and still counting! And yes, no one bothered to keep any track of that! Three decades on, some 2,600 square miles of area was evacuated deemed contaminated by the nuclear meltdown. And 300,000 of those temporarily moved residents have still not moved back, because the after effects of contamination are still active and will remain so for many more decades.
And all of it happened – not just because a nation wanted to deliver its nuclear program at minimal cost, thereby compromising on the fault safe design of its reactors and never daring to acknowledge it even after the disaster struck them so hard; but also because of the flaring egos of a bunch of ‘scientists’ who would go to any extent to secure a petty promotion and glorify themselves in front of leadership!
Thanks to hundreds of bravehearts and unsung heroes – scientists, technicians, select bureaucrats, fire fighters, medical practitioners, miners, soldiers from the army, and the regular Soviet youth engaged in control operations post the disaster, most of whom went on to lose their life either immediately or in years to come, the impact could be controlled to the staggering numbers mentioned above; or otherwise there was every possibility of the entire continent of Europe being completely wiped out by the catastrophe.
The five part HBO mini series Chernobyl depicts this entire horror of the 1986 incident unfolding at choking precision. Never before in a TV series would you have felt so terrible for courage and kindness. The situation is so devastating that you would not know if you should cheer for a bunch of people selflessly trying to dig mines or clear terrace rubble or treat patients, or cry for them as they chose to put themselves to death for the greater good. You would helplessly watch as stray animals are being put to rest preventing them to become agents, and you would possibly exhale a sigh of relief at sights of mass burial of men and animals under concrete! You would begin to feel attacked by rain, by flying ash, or by the mere air that you breathe in; and you would desperately want to go back to 1:23:45 and hours before that to alter the turn of events from that point on.
It takes courage to create something like Chernobyl, and expose some of the darkest attempted cover-ups and human failures in the excruciating journey of this man-made disaster. It is an extremely disturbing watch, and one can only imagine how disturbing it was to be part of the show in whatever capacity. Kudos to the team for such a water tight script, all round brilliant performances (special shout out to Jared Jarris, Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgard), and excellent technical collaboration to deliver such a heart wrenching experience! The slow burn pace, the eerie sound design, well researched production design and the on point cinematography come together to keep it minimal, but evoke a range of utterly painful to exasperating emotions of the strongest kind. It is impossible not to be completely shaken by the Chernobyl experience, and rightfully so. No wonder, it is the highest ever rated show in history now, leaving behind everything from Game of Thrones to Breaking Bad!
Thank you HBO, Craig Mazin, Johan Renck and the entire team for the tremendous work in putting together such a devastating but deeply moving account of the horrific truth even with some acknowledged cinematic adjustments. It takes a lot of courage to rock the boat at the highest level for a disaster that is still hyperactive in its poisonous impact, well beyond the contours of continued radioactivity only!
Truth is stranger than fiction, humans are more dangerous than dragons, and reality is far more horrific than fantasy. The disaster for Chernobyl is a testimony to that. Drop everything and watch Chernobyl – it is not going to be an easy watch at all, but it is an experience you cannot afford to miss, how much ever claustrophobic and shaken it leaves you!
All five episodes of Chernobyl is now streaming on Hotstar Premium. Do not miss it!
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