Duration: 119 mins
Director: Ruchi Narain
Cast: Kiara Advani, Akansha Ranjan Kapoor, Gurfateh Singh Pirzada, Taher Shabbir, Dalip Tahil and others
Music: Ankur Tiwari
Hyderabad: It’s often tricky when filmmakers choose to walk a fine line to tell a story that has an intriguing drama and talk about a socially relevant theme at the same time. ‘Guilty’, a Netflix original, written by Ruchi Narain, Kanika Dhillon and Atika Chohan, successfully manages to do so. It holds our attention till the very end and also raises some thought-provoking questions by the end of it.
The #MeToo movement in 2018 exposed the murkier side of showbiz. Several biggies of Bollywood were exposed. Two years later, those accused of sexual abuse and misconduct are still roaming free.
‘Guilty’ exactly showcases the various complexities surrounding sexual allegations. Amid Valentine’s Day celebrations happening in a college, VJ (Gurfateh Pirzada), the college heartthrob is accused of rape by his college-mate Tanu (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor). While the accusation creates a divide in the college, VJ is supported firmly by his family, friends, and girlfriend Nanki (Kiara Advani).
‘Guilty’ is a Whodunit where the screenplay moves back and forth to the present where the investigation is done by lawyer Danish Ali Baig (Taher Shabbir) and how events unfolded on that fateful night.
Director Ruchi Narain holds the film well and keeps the audience guessing. In this process, she addresses various underlying issues — how privilege, power, corruption can manipulate the judicial process. It throws light on our societal conditioning where many people are judgmental towards small-town girls who express themselves. It explains about the ingrained patriarchy in our society, how victim-shaming is done during such times and how we take consent for granted.
However, despite the honest attempt, the film is not without its flaws. In its quest to find the truth, it fizzles down towards the end. The film focuses so much on Nanki’s world that somewhere Tanu’s perspective isn’t explored to the fullest. It doesn’t focus much on the mental and emotional trauma she goes through. In its efforts to keep the suspense element alive, it loses track of what it is set out to convey.
Having said that, the performances have enhanced the story. Gurfateh makes a promising debut and he’s an actor to watch out for. Akansha also makes a good beginning with a fine performance. Taher as the lawyer gives an assured performance. However, it’s Kiara Advani who has stolen the show in ‘Guilty’. It is her career-best role so far and she does wonderfully well.
In the end credits, the makers put up statistics about how #MeToo movement has failed to achieve its purpose and how people who commit such crimes haven’t been punished. It also mentions how we as a society are part of such crimes by remaining silent and we all are equally guilty. In the wake of #MeToo movement and the conversation, it initiated, ‘Guilty’ is an important film that takes one step ahead in that direction.