Bawandar is based on the true story of Bhanwari Devi’s gang-rape case. The names of characters and places have been changed for legal reasons. For example, Bhanwari’s character is called Sanwari, her husband Mohan’s character is called Sohan, and their village is called Dhabri (Bhateri in real life).
The story is introduced through first-person narration by a foreign reporter called Amy (Laila Rouass), who has read about Sanwari’s case in a newspaper. Amy and her friend-cum-interpreter Ravi (Rahul Khanna) visit Sanwari’s village to investigate the matter, five years after the gang-rape incident. Upon their arrival in Rajasthan, Amy and Ravi meet a rickshaw-puller named Sohan (Raghuvir Yadav) by happenstance, who helps them on their way to a village where they encounter Sanwari’s rapists. Sohan turns out to be Sanwari’s husband, and tells the tale of Sanwari’s rape case.