Movie Review | Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai: When A Man Takes On A Godman
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ajit Andhare
Only one alphabet ‘o’ differentiates the words ‘godman’ and a ‘good man’. In a country where religion rules the roost, godmen are dime a dozen and not necessarily all of them are good.
Inspired by true incidents, ‘Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai’ deals with one such bad man and his evil acts.
Director Apoorv Singh Karki doesn’t waste any time as the title montage rolls over. He straightaway gets down to business with the inaugural scene of a minor Nu and her parents approaching a police station to file a complaint against Baba. The self-styled godman is accused of abusing Nu.
Nu’s lawyer double-crosses her and hence she and her parents seek P.C. Solanki’s (Manoj Bajpayee) help. Solanki happily holds briefs for Nu and thus begins a long-drawn legal battle fraught with life threats and other lures. Witnesses are bumped off left, right and centre if they cannot be bought.
‘Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai’ is not a regular courtroom drama replete with repartees. It’s procedural and granular in its approach. Thanks to the story, screenplay and dialogues by Deepak Kingrani adequate time is spent on how such cases are fought out in the court, the documents involved, and the depths of arguments and counterarguments plummet. Yet it is riveting and engrossing enough.
At every level, the scale on which the movie has been mounted is believable and plausible. Be it the courtrooms or the locations, the movie stays true to life.
Adrija who plays Nu is impressive to the hilt. Most of the time, her face is covered with a scarf so she lets her eyes do the talking and voice act. Not since Kangana’s debut in ‘Gangster’ have we had an actress whose even voice stands out. Adrija effectively and emphatically conveys the pain and anguish of Nu through her dialogue delivery.
If Adrija steals the show, can the maverick Manoj Bajpayee be far behind? With ‘Bandaa…’, vintage Manoj is on display. After a long time, we have Manoj Bajpayee of ‘Aligarh’ and ‘Satya’. In ‘Bandaa..’, with his acquired accent, sometimes hassled sometimes confident, sometimes stammering sometimes speaking seamlessly, Manoj Bajpayee once again proves why he is one of the best actors we have.
Don’t miss out on the scene when he gets frozen at the wheel due to fear as two henchmen of the godmen are following him. You can almost hear the silent shriek he lets out as he rolls up his car window. Or the one when he is lamenting beating his buddy, his son, or the one when he is arguing against his idols in the court.
But nothing matches the speech he gives as his closing arguments to this case, absolutely stunning and spellbinding. A little over the top, but it works. His voice and eyes spit fire with anger and rage. We are taken so much by his demand for the death penalty for Baba, that the almost minute-long silence after his high-decibel arguments actually even allows us to gather our thoughts.
Unfortunately, the movie also has its minuses. For instance, it to a large extent glosses over the existence of police machinery, the reaction of bhakts, how the media reacted, and political pressure.
The writing focuses more on the lawyer fighting the case so much so that even the track of Nu, who never gives up or how her family copes with the situation does not get enough spotlight.
Still, in an era when courtroom dramas tend to get cringe-worthy with their antics and histrionics, ‘Bandaa..’ is a hearing worth attending. It’s straightforward, simple and handled with a lot of sensitivity. The case which is a commentary on the phenomenon of cults vis-a-vis religion in our society is being fought on Zee5.
Movie: Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai
Director: Apoorv Singh Karki
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Adrija