From its title, Apoorv Singh Karki's Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai posits that just one person is enough. For what? Perhaps for change, for revolution, for a fight.
An evocative Manoj Bajpayee plays the role of a lawyer PC Solanki who is approached by a minor girl's parents to fight a case against a godman Baba. The film is 'inspired' by the highly-publicised Asaram Bapu case wherein the godman was charged with rape of a minor in 2013.
Solanki is fighting not only the opposing lawyer but multiple parties who support the Baba and have no qualms flouting the law to get their way. Witnesses are endangered and Solanki's own life is in danger as he fights the Goliath-esque system.
As a performance, Bajpayee is magic on the screen as he wears his character like a second skin. He gets the mannerisms and emotional heft required by his character down to a T. He is no unshakeable hero; he's afraid when he is being followed or sees violence unfurl in front of him. But in the courtroom, his arena, he is driven by a conviction and a hunger for the truth.
The movie, in itself, is sometimes too much because it tries too hard. The background score often overpowers the visuals, especially in scenes where it's clearly trying to push the audience to feel a certain way. In being unnecessary, it comes across as gimmicky.
The film, and especially writer Deepak Kingrani, deserves credit for not making its hero out to be a complete antithesis to its subject matter.
In one scene Solanki tells the survivor Nu that the hostility aimed at her comes from people projecting their anger and insecurity at their bubble about Baba being broken.
She's facing the brunt of rightfully standing up not only to a godman but to a system that is designed to silence women.
At the same time, he is an ardent supporter of Lord Shiva and often quotes scripture. He is positioned as a man who understands the difference between reverence and blind faith.
But there are issues as well. In focusing on the ek bandaa (one man) at the centre of the courtroom drama, we see little of the stories bubbling around him. The way the pressure of "proving" allegations of sexual misconduct falls on the survivor is hinted at but not explored.
At the same time, we only see some goons doing Baba's dirty work but the film doesn't delve into how people have been driven to crime and hatred just because of their support of a godman. What makes people instantly put someone on a pedestal to the point where they refuse to believe anything or anyone else?
Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai has its problems but is successful in most of its messaging. Even though a focus on Nu's fight would've been better, it does show that sometimes one person is enough. And it tells the story of a horrific crime without ever exploiting its subject which is a win in itself.