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Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai Review: Magnificent Manoj

May 23, 2023 12:22 IST
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Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai makes the audience feel good that the battle for justice was not in vain, observes Deepa Gahlot.

The conviction rate of crimes against women is dismal in our country, so when once in a blue moon, a powerful religious leader is convicted, it is cause for celebration and immortalisation in the form of a film.

The protagonist of Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai is based on real life lawyer Poonam Chand 'PC' Solanki (played in the film by Manoj Bajpayee), who fought against the power of Asaram Bapu and ensured that he was sent to prison for the rape of a minor.

Written by Deepak Kinglani and directed by Apoorv Singh Karki, the film is an unvarnished courtroom drama, where the unassuming Jodhpur lawyer created legal history.


Solanki is portrayed as a simple and religious man, who lives in an old Jodhpur haveli with his mother (Veena Mehta) and young son (Gauransh Sharma). He is respected in the town, but not given much of a backstory.

He gets approached by the parents of Nu Singh (Aditi Sinha Adrija), to accept their case against Baba (Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha), who sexually assaulted the 16 year old in his ashram.

The parents (Jaihind Kumar, Durga Sharma) are devotees of Baba, so it is not strange that they take their ailing daughter to his ashram instead of a hospital, accepting without question that she is possessed.

It is the sense of betrayal and righteous anger that gives them the courage to even approach the police.

Surprisingly, the cops take the complaint seriously and follow due procedure.

A female cop gently tells Nu to cover her face, since the media has been tipped off and gathered outside in large numbers. It is a TRP-enhancing sensational case!

The Baba has thousands of followers and they come out on the streets in protest against the arrest.

The prosecutor is easily bribed, and the defending lawyer Sharma (Vipin Sharma) is confident of getting bail.

Sharma first tries to prove that Nu was not a minor, so the stringent POCSO Act does not apply.

When he fails, and bail is denied, an array of legal luminaries is lined up -- their real names are not used in the film, but appear in the end credits.

Solanki is dazzled by the heroes he is up against: Ram Jethmalani, Subramanian Swamy, Salman Khurshid.

Outside, witnesses are murdered with impunity, and Solanki fears for his own life and that of his son, but does not back off.

It is actually not just one bandaa who gets justice in this case, but also the cops and the various judges who are not intimidated, the people who lose their lives to stand by the truth, and the Singh family, that loses everything, but does not retreat.

Since the film was meant for a streaming platform, Karki could keep his treatment of the powerful story simple and without unnecessary courtroom theatrics or melodrama.

The accused is not even called upon to testify so he cannot swing any sympathy towards himself, as an old man.

Except for Manoj Bajpayee -- immersing himself into the character as always -- there are no major stars in the film, so the actors look and act real, like the actual participants in the case might have been.

Bajpayee maintains his Rajasthani accent and humble manner throughout, losing his cool only when his son goes missing.

Karki deftly balances the emotions of hope and despair and at one level, the film makes the audience feel good, that Nu and Solanki's battle was not in vain.

But it might also caution people against getting caught up in cases against the powerful because overall, the legal system in our country does not inspire confidence, especially when influential and wealthy people are involved.

It also makes one wonder at the foolishness of people who follow phoney godmen.

There have been so many horrific rape cases in recent years, which have been quietly buried, with witnesses eliminated and political strings pulled, while the media loses interest after a while.

Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai tells the story of one victorious case, but there is a swamp of injustice out there.

Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai streams on ZEE5.

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