Interwoven stories of people in India and US as they face dilemmas of life time in the months leading to the biggest Industrial disaster in human history that claimed 10,000 innocent lives within a few hours. Inspired by real events.
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The story follows a young rickshaw-puller in Bhopal who gets a menial job at a chemical plant, but in December of 1984 a chemical spill in India takes the lives of almost 15,000 people and injuring more than 100,000. The film follows how the industrial disaster in the city changes his life and those of others. Written by
In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former UCIL chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by Indian law. Within 2 days all got bail. See more »
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain is an efficiently-told film that will succeed in driving you to anger, and possibly drive you to act so that nothing like this ever occurs again
As the heated debate over the Keystone XL pipeline continues, pundits can be heard weighing the promise of jobs against any dangers posed to the environment. It's an argument that is easy to understand and for people to connect with; more jobs is always a good thing, right? And if the corporation is safe, then what's the problem? The unfortunate truth is much like what the people of Bhopal, India suffered thirty years ago when an American pesticide plant leak killed more than 10,000 people and sickened thousands more. Indian director Ravi Kumar's long-developing drama Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain doesn't aim for thrills but gut-wrenching reality in recreating the events of that horrific day.
Initially due to be released on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, the film instead emerges for the 30th, which goes to show you the hurdles Kumar had to overcome just getting it released. It's an ambitious project, one that was developed outside the Bollywood studio system and employs a number of conscientious American actors, along with a few well-known Hindi stars. Rajpal Yadav stars as poor, hapless Dilip, who struggles to feed his family while also trying to secure a proper dowry for his sister's impending wedding. But how can he be expected to do that when he's in debt to the local loan shark, the grocer has cut off their credit, and he only eats when the neighbors leave behind leftovers. When the dismissive, corner-cutting boss at Union Carbide picks Dilip randomly for a job, he seems to have hit the lottery. Little does he know, or care for that matter, that Union Carbide produces and barely manages to contain huge stores of methyl isocyanate (MIC), a lethal poison.
Kal Penn plays Motwani, a muckraking journalist/gossip columnist running a makeshift newspaper operation in hopes of exposing Union Carbide's gross negligence and lack of safety standards. The untrained crew can barely fix a minor leak, the safety inspector screams foul but nobody listens, and when a worker dies from a single drop of MIC the company's chief Warren Anderson (Martin Sheen) is more concerned with damage control than upping safety standards. Mischa Barton snoozes through a role as an American journalist for Paris Match who briefly takes an interest in Union Carbide's secrets, but doesn't get very far before being stonewalled by Anderson and her own employer. The company's official stance is that "MIC is harmless" despite all evidence to the contrary. As long as production continues and the plant stays open that is all that matters.
While Kumar spends a good deal of time on the efforts to expose Union Carbide, too much of the film is spent on poor Dilip, who is both a sympathetic and comical figure. We see him scrambling to avoid paying his debts, scrambling to arrange a wedding, and scrambling to stay on his wife's good side. But he's the "everyman" of this piece, and is more effective when forced to decide between revealing his employer's misdeeds or feeding his family. If Union Carbide goes away, so does his job. So do ALL of the jobs in Bhopal, for the most part. Kumar takes an even-handed approach in laying blame; the American corporations who come to India because of lax standards, but also the foreign governments that allow such things to happen. When the film goes astray it's usually when attention is taken away from the impending disaster, such as a dead-end subplot involving a Union Carbide accountant's attempts to close the plant because it loses money for the shareholders.
The Union Carbide plant was a powder keg waiting to explode, and when it finally does the results are horrific, worse than any horror movie you're likely to see this year. Kumar spares no expense in the final sequence, depicting thousands of people vomiting, dying, as the poisonous cloud overtakes Bhopal. The men responsible? Of course they're nowhere to be found, and the disregard they showed for the value of Indian lives will boil your blood. Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain is an efficiently-told film that will succeed in driving you to anger, and possibly drive you to act so that nothing like this ever occurs again
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