What is the cost of lies?

The truth doesn’t care about our needs or wants. It doesn’t care about our governments, our ideologies, our religions. It will lie in wait for all the time. And this, at last, is the gift of Chernobyl.

They said that the radiation released by Chernobyl explosion was equivalent to 500 Hiroshima bombs. This is enough to instill shock & horror. And yet it barely encompasses the effect of one of the world’s worst man-made catastrophes.

HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl chronicles the real-life events leading to fateful disaster in April 1986 & it’s aftermath.

The opening seconds of the first episode plunges the viewers into absolute chaos as the nuclear workers themselves are unable to grasp the scale of mischap. The explosion is seen through a window from a distant apartment. And then it happens. A huge bolt of light lightens the sky- bigger & brighter, portraying a sense of inevitable doom.

In hours after the disaster, Professor Valery Legasov, head of Kurchatov Institute, is forced to team up council of ministers’ deputy chairman Boris Shcherbina & Ulana Khomyuk from the Belorussian Institute not only to clean up the radioactive fallout but also to find out how RMBK reactor exploded. Was it the operator’s error or some technical snag? What really happened that night? Writer Craig Mazin & director Johan Renck provide an unrelenting insight into how these colossal mistakes were made & why so many failed to recognise a clear & present danger.

You would think that all citizens of Pripyat were evacuated immediately after the catastrophe. But top officials & Soviet bureaucrats had initially tried everything in their power to cover it up. They thought they could lie their way out of this. They were unwilling to accept that a nuclear reactor can explode. We know that nuclear power is the pride of any nation but what is the human cost of it?

The best part of Chernobyl is reserved for its unsung heroes. The fire-fighters who didn’t know what was the cause of fire & what they are going into, the coal-miners who excavate the tunnel for heat exchangers had to work almost naked in 50 degrees heat, the divers who drained the bubbler tanks underneath the reactor & bio-robots; a highly metamorphical term used for brave men who cleared radioactive debris above the reactor. Some were tasked with killing pets in affected areas. All doomed. It’s so horrific that the showrunners didn’t have to exaggerate. No exaggeration, no sugar coating.

Professor Legasov with the help of his comrades uncovers the truth. The functioning of nuclear reactor is explained in a simple & lucid manner that you don’t need to be nuclear expert to understand it. Someone had to do it. Someone had to bring the truth forward. Someone had to go against the State. Someone had to take the fall. Professor Legasov is that man. Knowing that they will put a bullet in his head his voice deepens as he says in front of the entire courtroom,”That’s how a nuclear reactor explodes. Lies.”

Chernobyl isn’t just a documentary mini-series. It’s a tale of sacrifice & struggle. It’s a story of heroes. But most of all, it’s an examination of truth. After watching this harrowing tale, you will leave yourself questioning the system as Professor Legasov quotes:

Where I once feared the cost of truth, now I only ask, “What is the cost of lies?”

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