‘Guilty’: Real story of modern times

Ruchi Narain’s Guilty, which is set inside a college campus and based on the #MeToo movement, is a film you too must watch

Photo Courtesy: Twitter
Photo Courtesy: Twitter

Biswadeep Ghosh

It is Valentine’s Day, 2017. A small-town girl with an unusual accent starts flirting with a popular student of St. Martin’s College. Sometime later, the girl accuses the young man of rape.

So, what happened on Valentine’s Day when alcohol and drugs flowed freely and students were having the time of their lives? That forms the basis of Guilty, a Netflix film headlined by Kiara Advani, directed by Ruchi Narain, written by Narain and Kanika Dhillon and produced by Dharmatic, the digital arm of Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.

At two hours long, Guilty is a crisply edited film that doesn’t drag and consume the viewer’s time. The plot is mostly set inside a college campus where students wear the latest in street fashion, hurl four-letter words and campus lingo, rehearse plays, and perform music.

They party hard too, and it is during one such late-night celebration that Tanu Kumar (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor), a footloose Dhanbad girl, is allegedly raped by Vijay ‘VJ” Pratap Singh (Gurfateh Singh Pirzada), who is handsome, talented and sought after by many female students of the college.

The story of Guilty unfolds itself during the momentous times of the #MeToo movement, which had exposed many erring men who had made the most of a sexist power structure and imposed themselves on women. The film’s screenplay struggles to convince on occasions, but the product’s well-intentioned nature makes it worthy of applause.

Without unleashing a set of spoilers, here is a peep into what happens after Tanu accuses VJ of rape. The boy’s powerful parents (Niki Walia and Manu Rishi) do everything they can to protect the prestige of the family. Tahir Shabbir as Danish Ali Baig, a solicitor on VJ’s side, conducts a series of investigations to figure out what had happened on that fateful day.

Nanki Dutta (Kiara Advani), VJ’s flamboyant girlfriend, is in a complicated relationship with the man in her life. VJ insists that he hadn’t forced himself on Tanu but admits that he had cheated on his girlfriend. He hadn’t raped the small-town girl, he repeatedly says, dismissing Tanu’s claims as lies. Nanki wants to uncover nothing but the truth.

That the plot of Guilty is set during the #MeToo movement will make it a relatable subject for many viewers. The dialogue with generous portions of four-letter words is apt for the environment it portrays, but it may not click with those who usually watch typical Bollywood films authored by conservative writers. The film also highlights the theme of trial by social media, possibly the most powerful medium of self-expression in modern times. That, too, shall connect with the urban subscriber of OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Among the performers, Advani as Nanki is terrific. She makes us miss her when she is not on the screen. Senior actors Kunal Vijaykar (as Dr Roy, Nanki’s local guardian), Dalip Tahil (as lawyer Mirchandani), Walia and Rishi are predictably reliable. Kapoor and Pirzada as Tanu and Pirzada step into the shoes of their respective characters without much fuss and impress. Shabbir as solicitor Baig is remarkable and makes the most of the screen time on offer.

Karan Johar deserves a special mention for producing Guilty. Narain, who has helmed it, has treated the story with the sort of sensitivity it deserves, making it highly watchable.

Find time for this Netflix film.

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