Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai review: Manoj Bajpayee's new film based on real-life incidents focuses on telling the journey of a lawyer fighting a 5-year long battle to get justice for a minor girl who is sexually assaulted by an influential godman.
Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai review: Do you remember the Asaram Bapu case that went on for 5 years? Well, this film is based on this high-profile case in 2013 where the self-proclaimed 'godman' was arrested for sexually assaulting a minor. Made in the style of a courtroom drama focusing on the legal battle fought spanning 5 years, Sirf Ek Bandaa Kafi Hai is neither raunchy nor thrilling enough but it isn't a complete crash and burn either. Why? Because Manoj Bajpayee is that ek bandaa who saves this otherwise bland script from a complete breakdown proving that sirf ek bandaa hi kaafi hai!
Apoorv Singh Karki (Saas Bahu Pvt. Ltd., Aspirants) and Deepak Kingrani wanted the film to just focus on the fact-based legal battle fought in this entire hoopla. PC Solanki (Manoj Bajpayee), a dynamic Rajasthani lawyer, and a true devotee of Mahadev, fights to get justice for this young girl against the many titans of the legal system. It's clear that the film is not at all interested in making any sort of commentary or going into detail about who was involved, why and what happened and instead keeps its focus on how it all was proven in court. While the world still inside the courtroom is interesting yet outside of it is highly disoriented or just connected in a matter-of-fact manner that makes it hard for any kind of emotions to fathom or last longer.
The entire approach of soap-opera drama aesthetics with those camera angles and loud background music that starts to play every time to fill space doesn't necessarily bode well for the film that is opting for realism. Even the performative sketch-like scenes to describe what has happened beyond the walls of the courtroom, especially the traumatic event with the young girl, the baba in jail, Solanki's relationship with his mother and his son 'buddy' and how those four witnesses get killed play all too blandly rather than evoking feelings that they are meant to do. Because of this, I couldn't figure out the exact tone of the film that the makers were trying to take. Whether they were going for a courtroom drama or a biopic of PC Solanki or what?!
It feels like any time Manoj Bajpayee isn't on the screen, the film falls completely flat on its own and this speaks volumes about the genius skilled actor that he is! Because with just his sheer brilliance in essaying even the minutest of mannerisms makes the advocacy of the film feel like an emotional experience. The dedicated way with which he has played the shudh Hindi marwadi-speaking lawyer Solanki makes him so eccentric that the film turns into a thunderous watching experience by the end. I would love to see Solanki fighting more crimes in court and my god that last monologue! And this is proof of what great acting can do for a film like this that relies on the shoulders of its protagonist indefinitely.
Though the true realism of the film seeps in through Solanki's comedy and the anxiety of being killed in this otherwise clinical fact-based drama in an interesting twist and even builds a character sketch of Solanki. Like the way he mimics and behaves with the lawyers fighting against him, many of who are his seniors whom he admires, and how he's only a hero inside a courtroom, otherwise, he's a common man who's too scared to be killed while fighting this high-profile case. The constant anxiety of being murdered keeps him awake at night and the fear in his eyes is so real when he sees someone getting knifed right in front of him. Even the panic that he goes through when he is chased down the street from being constantly followed.
Though the film has to be given a hat's off for making an important point by breaking the stereotype in creating its protagonist. Solanki is not your usual liberal rebellious misfit who wants to change society for good. Rather he's as much like any other common man who is a by-product of his environment. He's a true believer of Sanatana Dharma and a reasonable, sensible man who argues with facts against myths. In fact, he uses his faith in religion by quoting Ramayana to unmask these self-proclaimed babas who champion being 'gods'. Hence in turn narrating to the world the difference between the true essence of religion and the politics being played in the name of it.
Even when the girl is being targeted he explains that it is not only because she is just a victim of a horrific crime. But also because with her truth she stands to break the balance between the illusion of something great like a god and the mortality of living. In short, a question about the true idea of god and our belief in superstitions promoting these men to the status of "godmen''. And people fear anything that takes away their belief system. Could the film have been made better? Definitely! Because the issue as well as Manoj Bajpayee deserve better than just playing it a bit safe. But is it successful in keeping its intended message subtly irrespective of all its problems? Yes! Overall Sirf Ek Bandaa Kafi Hai does an extremely fine job even if it's not a memorable enthralling courtroom drama.
Sirf Ek Bandaa Kafi Hai is currently streaming on Zee5.
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