Manoj Bajpayee’s new film Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai is all set to release. The courtroom drama sees Manoj play real-life lawyer PC Solanki, who fought the infamous rape case against self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu in a Jodhpur Court from 2013-18 and got Asaram convicted. While the film does deal with a rape case, it fictionalises several elements and does not use real names of most characters, apart from Solanki himself.
Who is advocate PC Solanki?
Poonam Chand Solanki is a lawyer in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur. He was born to a former railway mechanic and is the only brother of three sisters. His family ensured that despite modest means, Solanki completed his education and eventually studied law. The lawyer joined the bar in 1996. His first high-profile came in 2002 as per an Asian Age article. He filed a PIL in the Rajasthan High Court against the immersion of Ganesh idols made of Plaster of Paris in Gulab Sagar near the historic Ghantaghar, as it led to the death of several fish in the lake. In 2014, he was approached by the parents of a minor who was fighting a rape case against prominent godman Asaram Bapu, which is how he came to be associated with the case.
What was the Asaram Bapu rape case?
Self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu (born Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani) ran over 400 ashrams in India and abroad as well as 40 schools. In August 2013, 1 16-year-old girl staying at Asaram’s ashram near Jodhpur, accused him of sexually assaulting her at the ashram on the pretext of ‘exorcising evil spirits’ out of her. The girl’s parents were disciples of Asaram and filed a zero FIR in Delhi. Asaram was arrested in September and imprisoned in Jodhpur, where the trial began in the sessions court. A saram was charged under Sections 342, 376, 506 and 509 of the IPC, as well as under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act. After the complainants were unsatisfied with the initial proceedings, they roped in PC Solanki as their lawyer as he was an expert in the POCSO Act.
The trial continued for five years, during which time several related cases like other rape allegations against Asaram were also unearthed. Four key witnesses were either murdered or found dead in mysterious circumstances. The defence employed some of the top lawyers of the country, including Ram Jethmalani, Salman Khursheed, and Subramanian Swamy. But, PC Solanki prevailed. In April 2018, the Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court convicted Asaram guilty of the rape charges and pronounced a verdict of life imprisonment, along with a fine of ₹500,000 which was to be paid to the victim. His appeal was rejected by the High Court and Asaram continues to be in prison.
All you need to know about Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai
The film Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai shows PC Solanki fighting a rape case against a godman who is called simply Baba. The film does not name Asaram Bapu and also changes the names of some other key characters. The film’s creative producer Suparn S Verma told DNA that they had the rights to Solanki’s name and story and hence, only decided to use that. The film, also referred to as Bandaa, also stars Adrija, Vipin Sharma, and Surya Mohan Kulshrestha as the accused baba. Asaram had sent a legal notice to the makers saying the film tarnishes his image.
Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai, directed by Apoorva Singh Karki, has already got rave reviews with most people praising the script, presentation, and Manoj Bajpayee’s performance as Solanki. It is set to premiere on Zee5 on May 23.