Netflix’s ‘The Railway Men’ revolves around the fateful night of December 2, 1984, in Bhopal, when a factory’s careless safety protocols led to the largest industrial disaster in the world. The MIC chemical within Union Carbide’s leaking factory turns the Bhopal night air into a toxic chamber, delivering the residents to their ultimate demises through swift deaths or drawn-out medical conditions. Some survivors, trapped at Bhopal Junction, attempt to make it through the night under the fragile leadership of Stationmaster Iftekaar Siddiqui. Despite the lethal disposition of the city, Railway GM Rati Pandey bands a group of railway workers together and embarks on a relief mission to Bhopal in the face of unpleasant odds.
The historical story told through a fictionalized lens, dives into themes of human morality and brotherhood that remain heart-wrenching and warming in equal parts. Therefore, if the show has ignited your curiosity for other shows of similar basis in reality, here are some suggestions you might like!
8. Waco (2018)
The crime show ‘Waco’ is a dramatization of the real-life events that transpired in Waco, Texas, in February 1993 involving Branch Davidians led by their religious cult leader David Koresh. The show showcases the 51-day stand-off that took place between the FBI, the Branch Davidians, and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). The ensuing battle, saturated with guns and other deadly weapons, led to the death of numerous officers and civilians alike, leaving the survivors to deal with its aftermath. Although drastically different in subject matter, ‘Waco,’ like ‘The Railway Men,’ also focuses on a story underrepresented or misunderstood in large part. As such, if you’re interested in delving into such historical events, this show will be worth your time.
7. Rocket Boys (2022-)
A Hindi-language biographical drama show, ‘Rocket Boys’ follows the real-life historical figures Homi J. Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai during the 1940s-60s following India’s bold ventures into science after the country’s Independence. Vikram Sarabhai, a bright-eyed scientist with dreams of starting India’s very own space program, crosses paths with the ambitious and brilliant Homi Bhabha, a professor at the other man’s university. Together, the duo strives to achieve new scientific feats for their country until their goals diverge, putting them on a collision course against each other.
The show’s gripping narrative explores crucial points of Indian history through real-life events and people. Consequently, it shares a natural resemblance with ‘The Railway Men’ that achieves a similar outcome despite its drastically different genre.
6. Five Days at Memorial (2022)
Created by Carlton Cuse and John Ridley, ‘Five Days at Memorial’ is a show about the dark aftermath of Hurricane Katrina based on the eponymous non-fiction book by Sheri Fink. Following the lives of medical caregivers, like Dr. Anna Pou, Karen Wynn, and Dr. Bryant King, at a hospital in New Orleans, LA, the narrative depicts their adverse conditions during the fallout of a deadly natural crisis. Under the flood’s rising effects, with a five-day power cut-off, Dr. Pou and the others must make difficult choices, deciding between life and death with the repercussions to be dealt with later.
With survival and human compassion at its center, ‘Five Days at Memorial’ presents an emotionally electric story about people bound by their responsibilities and conscience. As such, the show seamlessly falls in line with the themes explored within ‘The Railway Men.’
5. High Water (2022-)
The Polish drama show ‘High Water’ (Originally titled Wielka Woda) presents a tale about the Central European flood of 1997, particularly its destructive effect in Wrocław. The protagonist, Jaśmina Tremer, a hydrologist, prepares for the worst, which is about to be a reality for Wrocław residents as a dangerous flood wave approaches the Lower Silesia capital. In the face of the natural catastrophe, the authorities are left to make a difficult decision and sacrifice the town’s nearby villages.
Initially, the impending doom that surrounds the show’s narrative remains calmer than the one depicted in ‘The Railway Men.’ Yet, the magnitude of the upcoming disaster, paired with the bureaucracy and local unrest that precedes it, paints an authentic picture of a real-life tragedy. In that regard, if the same aspect of the former show piqued your curiosity, you’re bound to like this show.
4. Notre-Dame (2022)
Following dramatized and often fictional narratives amidst the historical 2019 fire at the great Parisian Cathedral, ‘Notre-Dame’ is a French show about finding beginnings in grave adversities. The show focuses on the emotional impact that the renowned site’s burning incited among the nation and its residents. Furthermore, through characters such as Alice Adamski, General Ducourt, and others, the narrative strives to bring the real-life strife faced by firefighters and other first responders as they attempt to save a piece of history.
Much like ‘The Railway Men,’ this show shines a light on the everyday people who put their lives on the line for their jobs and innate sense of duty. Thus, with an intense disaster at its center, feeding into the show’s overarching thematic resonance, ‘Notre-Dame’ will deliver similar emotional and sentimental beats as the former show.
3. Mumbai Diaries (2021-)
‘Mumbai Diaries’ is a Hindi medical drama show with the debut season set during the brutal 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. It delves into the intense unraveling of events that take place in the Bombay General Hospital, where medical professionals witness a great tragedy overtaking their country and face a similar life-threatening situation themselves. Through it all, the Head of Trauma Surgery, Dr. Kaushik Oberoi, and his fellow frontline workers must confront a daunting moral dilemma when presented with their medical duty and the dwindling lives of the terrorists.
Although the show takes a more fictionalized approach and departs from real-life events in numerous instances, it still takes inspiration from real life. As such, at its core, the show strives to highlight the hard work and sacrifices that doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners make in times of misfortune. In this regard, the show provides a narrative similar to the one ‘The Railway Men’ equips.
2. Chernobyl (2019)
Famed in the realm of historical drama shows revolving around disasters, Craig Mazin’s ‘Chernobyl’ charts the story of courageous men and women in their massive undertaking to minimize the damage of a mammoth nuclear tragedy. The show presents a dramatization of the events that unfolded in Ukraine in April 1986 following the devastating explosion at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Armed with a blend of interesting characters, fictional or otherwise in nature, with riveting narratives, the show pulls the audience in and plunges them into the disaster’s horror that became several people’s lived reality. Thus, the show remains a perfect watch for fans of ‘The Railway Men’ who are seeking out similar fictionalized accounts of true stories with hard-earned substance.
1. The Days (2023)
Jun Matsumoto’s ‘The Days’ is a Japanese drama thriller show that follows the catastrophe that struck Japan after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit the country’s coast in 2011. Subsequently, the natural disaster severely damaged the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station, paving the way for a bigger human-made nuclear calamity to follow. Stuck in a ticking time bomb, the survivors inside the plant’s control room, headed by Operator Maejima, are compelled to risk their lives to save millions. Meanwhile, the team gets outside aid from station manager Masao Yoshida, who tries to mobilize a proper emergency response and save as many lives as possible.
This show parallels ‘The Railway Men’ in a multitude of ways, the most prominent of which remains its depiction of regular people and their heroic dedication to the greater good in the face of their own imminent deaths. Therefore, if you’re looking for shows that delve into the deeply humane as well as political facets of historical disasters, you should definitely add this show to your list!
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