Sirf Ek Bandaa Kafi Hai

Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai review: A riveting courtroom drama about justice for a rape victim

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Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai, Apoorv Singh Karki’s debut feature film written by Deepak Kingrani, is inspired by the high-profile conviction of Asaram Bapu, who was accused of raping a minor in his ashram in 2013. The landmark judgment under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) came five years later, after a rigorous legal battle against hotshots like Ram Jethmalani, Subramanian Swamy, and Salman Khurshid by a small-time lawyer from Jodhpur, P.C. Solanki, who persistently fought and made sure that Asaram was charged and imprisoned for life.

As the title suggests, one man is all it takes and in this case it is the stellar Manoj Bajpayee, who essays the role of P.C. Solanki, the lawyer who single-handedly emerged victorious in delivering justice to the teenager who accused this self-styled godman of rape. Supported by Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha (Baba), Vipin Sharma (defense lawyer), and Adrija Sinha (Nu) who plays the young victim, Sirf Ek Bandaa… is, in many ways, a vehicle to capture the brilliance of Bajpayee whose craft transcends the script to provide a grounded but, nevertheless, towering performance as Solanki.

From OTT to theatres

That is precisely why Sirf Ek Bandaa…, which was released on Zee5, should’ve been a theatrical release, for it is no Family Man, or even Gulmohar — it is your archetypal, high-intensity courtroom drama. The film is tailor-made for the big screen, with Bajpayee owning every bit of the frame, with his dry humour, and power-packed monologues disguised as legal arguments, that ought to give you goosebumps.

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To be honest, a Manoj Bajpayee film in the theatres has been missing ever since, he found his fan base on OTT, and touchwood for that, but be that as it may, the feeling devouring a Gangs Of Wasseypur-esque, or even a Sonchiriya-like film again in the cinema hall, seems terrifically attractive.

Which is probably why, in a surprising turn of events, Sirf Ek Bandaa…, which initially saw a streaming release, had a theatrical release last Friday, after having a golden run on Zee5, and fans demanding to see the film on the silver screen. The reverse has been true for several films, but Sirf Ek Bandaa… becomes one of the very few films to see a release in the theaters after an OTT-release, making us once again wonder about the ever-changing landscape of business for films.

A rape victim’s harrowing journey

Now that we have the tedious details out of the way, let’s get to the interesting part. Sirf Ek Bandaa… explores the harrowing journey of a rape victim and the tribulations involved for Solanki in the trial, that is set against a rather influential figure who’ll attempt to undermine the case. Through the lens of the justice system, it does well in examining the complexities surrounding sexual assault, victim-blaming, and the pursuit of truth, with meticulously crafted courtroom scenes, incorporating riveting dialogue exchanges, and dramatic confrontations.

The narrative maintains a gripping pace, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats as they witness the unfolding of the trial. The film skillfully balances the legal intricacies with the personal struggles of the characters, resulting in a multidimensional and emotionally charged narrative.

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When Solanki receives death threats, or sees a witness being stabbed in front of him, there is genuine fear in his eyes, allowing the character to be more human than superhero. He is only a fearless man in the court, where he uses facts and figures as his armour, and fiercely fights for the truth, but out of the courtroom, he is a father to a 10-year-old son, and a son to an aging mother, which is why when his son disappears, he is paranoid to death.

Sirf Ek Bandaa… is unafraid to delve into the societal issues surrounding sexual assault. It sheds light on the prevailing biases, and the arduous journey faced by survivors seeking justice. There’s a poignantly puissant scene, where Solanki talks with a nervous and afraid Nu. He tells her that in the eyes of the world, she is guilty, because she dragged their god to court, thereby attacking their belief, but that is inconsequential, and she has to be brave.

What is even more interesting is how Solanki isn’t an alien in this world — he belongs to the same world, he is a product of his surroundings. He is also a god-fearing man, who chants Har Har Mahadev, but unlike the people around him who’ve glorified a fraudulent godman, he is an educated lawyer who forms his morality not according to the majority, but based on objective observations.

Cinema as a catalyst for change

One of the film’s greatest strengths lies in its remarkable performances, primarily including Bajpayee. There is a certain intensity and conviction that he brings to his performances, therefore breathing life into the character of Solanki.

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His ability to convey emotions through subtle gestures and expressions, effectively communicating complex emotions without relying on overt dramatics, makes his performances increasingly realistic and relatable. When he gawks at the bigwig lawyers that argue against him, with a starry-eyed admiration, it is amusingly akin.

Sirf Ek Bandaa… shines as a gripping courtroom drama that tackles the subject of rape with sensitivity, integrity, and emotional depth. With Bajpayee’s exceptional performance, compelling screenplay, and thought-provoking themes, the film succeeds in leaving a lasting impact on its audience.

It serves as a reminder of the importance of seeking justice, amplifying the voices of survivors, and fostering empathy in the face of such heinous crimes. Sirf Ek Bandaa… not only sets a new standard for the genre but also reinforces the necessity of societal change and the power of cinema as a catalyst for transformation.

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