Director Ruchi Narain gives a contemporary film that is arguably one of the good ones to come out of Dharma Productions
The approach is urban. Talking about #MeToo, Guilty is a take on what’s wrong and what’s not. Feminism is being deliberated over the nuances of morality, faith, and the demeanour in the age of social media.
Vijay aka VJ (Gurfateh Pirzada), lead singer of his college band Dooby Doo is a wealthy stud. A heartthrob. His girlfriend Nanki (Kiara Advani) who he loves very much also happens to be the lyricist for the songs that the band performs. Another student Tanu (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor), a small town girl who’s in the college on a scholarship, who seems to be ‘asking for it’, accuses VJ of raping her. Who’s at fault? Has VJ raped her? Or is she using #MeToo as a card? The story tries to find out.
Written by Narain and Kanika Dhillon, with dialogues by Atika Chohan, the film brims with situations that bring out gender notions. The story begins with the investigation of the incident, that has happened already. The friends, peers, college teachers, and everybody who may be associated is being interrogated.
The story goes back and forth, umpteen times. Take it here, this narrative structure could work for you, only if you are into non linear narratives. Some may also find it confusing. The back storie, secrets, and the gradual revelations keep coming in as the film unfolds.
The writing is interesting for the most part of the first half. Keeping you interested, you want to know more. You may also find yourself predicting on what will happen to the characters. The design is of a thriller combined with some amount of suspense. Also, you do like to be hooked when your questions aren’t answered because the flow is right.
But unfortunately, all the build up doesn’t culminate into a convincing affair. Infact when the dots begin to connect, you tend to loosen the grip over the narrative. And when the final climactic act arrives on screen, you feel it was all the way contrived. Also, the final act becomes way too dramatic.
Having said that, the film does strike a conversation through dialogues. Sexism, gender stereotypes, class difference, male approach and his privileges, male ego, women and their perks of being women have all been hinted at. Although they needed to be crisper and on your face to be able to make the desired impact.
The city of Delhi also plays an important role. The writers haven’t resorted to the common traits of the city but still establish the flavour relevant to the film.
Kiara Advani, the most known face, performs the best. Not just in comparison to the others, but otherwise as well. As an actor, you evidently see her growth. She is a person who has a straight face, and also hints of dual behaviour; she has hallucinations having repercussions on her relationships. She justifies all of this with commendable strength.
Gurfateh Pirzada is effortless. He does fine in the layers that have been given to him. He is both flamboyant and rash.
Akansha Ranjan Kapoor performs ably. Catching a particular accent, she suits in the role of a wannabe who’s trying to fit in. Also, she makes you remain at a distance, which comes naturally through her restricted portrayal.
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Manu Rishi Chadha, Niki Walia, Kunal Vijaykar, and Dalip Tahil have done fine. They majorly add star appeal to the film, infusing confidence in the story.
Taher Shabbir has done a decent job, although he could do better. The role has limited scope, and may be that’s the reason he isn’t able to come across as a winner.
The songs by Ankur Tewari do the needful for the film. The tunes are soothing and give soul to the film. Lyrics by Kausar Munir are also good. Score could be better, much better infact. The mood needed to be uplifted.
Cinematography by Andrew Boulter is strong, particularly for the visual feel created. The film is inherently dark. But also colourful for the life of Delhi shown. It’s a single dimension for the photography part. Achieved well. Production design by Manini Mishra also works well for the situations of the film.
Editing by Bodhaditya Banerjee is different. The narrative is non linear with several jumps to the overall setup. Works for some. Doesn’t for some.
It’s an urban film. Contemporary. Talking about relationships today. About what it takes to stand on your feet. Not extraordinary. But overall a very good watch.