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Sirf ek Bandaa kaafi hai – Movie Review

Sirf ek Bandaa kaafi hai

A hard-hitting courtroom drama spearheaded by an incredible Manoj Bajpayee.

Courtesy: Ahwaan Padhee, XIMB

Sirf ek BANDAA kaafi hai review : A hard-hitting courtroom drama spearheaded by an incredible Manoj Bajpayee.

Sirf ek bandaa kaafi hai, directed by Apoorv Singh Karki, is based on true incidents and chronicles the fight between an ordinary man and a Godman. It’s a fight for justice. A 5-year long fight. Justice for a young girl who is sexually exploited by a serial offender Baba in his ashram.

Karki who has been associated with TVF projects including Aspirants and Saas Bahu Aachar Pvt Ltd, forays into an unfamiliar terrain and masterfully creates a tense and gripping courtroom drama which stars Manoj Bajpayee as the protagonist, advocate PC Solanki fighting for the victim at various levels – the Jodhpur district court, high court and even the Supreme court.Despite strong opposition from highly influential and illustrious lawyers and even life threat lurking at each corner, Solanki is undeterred by the twisty and complex nature of the case , and the foul strategies adopted by his opponents to prove his case weak. Like claiming that the victim is not juvenile, causal FIR lodged by the Delhi Police and trying to descope the POCSO Act in this case. He is even lured by bribes to withdraw, faces the physical attacks and mentally jeopardized when the witnesses are killed.

The beats in BANDAA are familiar and have similar tropes as you see in any courtroom thriller but what makes Karki’s film stand out is a compelling and superbly earnest performance by Manoj Bajpayee. You get to see an entirely new facet that he lends to his character – he is vulnerable yet committed, he is fearful but determined, he is unpredictable but restrained. At one point you see him getting intimidated when his opponent lawyer, modelled on Ram Jethmalani, bangs the table while making his point, and at another, he snarkily screams at the guy offering him bribe. Bajpayee adorns Solanki with a fascinating streak of being quirky and resolute at the same time. You also see him breaking down in distress and taking solace in his mother’s lap.

Bajpayee is surrounded by an array of impressive performances. Vipin Sharma as his rival lawyer is first rate. He doesn’t antagonize his part like late Amrish Puri did to Inderjeet Chadda in Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Damini – rather there is camaraderie and a healthy clash between him and Solanki. He even feels clumsy asking questions to the victim about the sexual encounter. Adrija who plays the victim Nu lends a lot of believability to her character. Her parents, played by the unfamiliar faces – Jaihind Kumar and Durga Sharma, reveal a palpable helplessness. Surya Mohan Kulshrestha plays Baba with an unmistakable menace. He doesn’t have any dialogues, but his presence is creepy and formidable. Incidentally, the celebrated theatre actor had also played a godman in Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy in 2020.

There are occasional lapses in the film and a length of 2 hour 12 minutes feels tedious, but the script by Deepak Kingrani boasts of pragmatic detailing and meticulous research. You get to see numerous arial shots of the city of Jodhpur and its slim streets – the visual topography of Bandaa is apt, including the life-size courtroom and the execution is realistic.

I go with 4 stars out of 5 for BANDAA. It’s a compelling tale of triumph of courage and grit over evil. Streaming on Zee5 platform.