Who Is the Guilty One?
Guilty deals with a serious issue – and one much in the public eye since the #MeToo movement began. The story, which takes place in India, concerns an incident at a college in Delhi. Tanu (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor), one of the students, claims she was raped by VJ (Gurfatah Singh Pirzada), the most popular guy on campus, during the 2018 Valentine’s Day celebration. VJ comes from a well-known and respected family, but Tanu, a newcomer to the college, is a disadvantaged student attending on a scholarship.
An investigation gets underway, led by handsome lawyer Danish (Taher Shabbir), who carefully interviews many of the students -- including Nanki (Kiara Advane), VJ’s songwriting girlfriend. Everyone sticks up for VJ, even Nanki. It seems that Tanu has a reputation as an attention-getter who always clings to the guys, especially VJ. Other students start calling Tanu a whore. So much for #MeToo ideals and power!
Mysterious flashbacks lend a thriller look to this drama and give us confusing clues about what actually happened. Fortunately, most performances ring true. Advane is convincing as a literary, free-spirited young woman with a dark secret of her own. And Pirzada oozes charisma as the popular male student and leader of his Doobydo band. However, Kapoor seems a bit too exaggerated as the stereotypical femme fatale. Also, because so much is happening so fast, we have trouble empathizing with any of the characters until the last part of the movie.
“Sexual assault,” she complains
But “No,” the accused soon explains.
Consensual sex, he calls it.
She says, “I yelled at him to quit.”
The college heartthrob and his kin
stick together through thick and thin.
His girlfriend wants to believe him,
for accuser is far from prim.
So who should we believe and why?
Guilty shows scenes that make us cry.
Too bad it’s easy to predict
the outcome of this Hindi flick.
Directed by Ruchi Nurain, who co-wrote the timely script with Atika Chohan and Kunika Dhillon, Guilty reminds us how important it is to listen when sexual assault charges are made instead of automatically blaming and/or shaming the accuser.
In India and elsewhere in the world, the moment a woman speaks out against harassment, people start making all sorts of character judgements about her, about her morality, about what she was wearing and all such things – and I think that is not fair. --- Huma Qureshi
(Released by Neflix. Not rated by MPAA. Hindi language with English captions.)