Addressing the MeToo movements of 2018, the new Netflix original, Guilty, attempts to question our morality but fails to be true and fair. Read the review for a deeper insight.
Portraying college life in a vast variety of forms through Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, 2 States and Wake Up Sid, Karan Johar presents to his audience, yet another such depiction of the same in his latest production, Guilty, directed by Ruchi Narain. Guilty is a Netflix original based in the prime student-hub of the country, the Delhi University, aiming to address the significance and relevance of the #MeToo movement that began in India in late 2018. Including elements of slut shaming, class differences, political influence, mental disorders and many more, Guilty attempts to cover a case of rape accusation in its most complicated nature, honestly defining the idiom – too many cooks spoil the broth.
The movie stars Kiara Advani and Akanksha Ranjan as two widely distinct girls from the same college, St. Martin’s. Advani’s character, Nanki Dutta, is the typical “rebel without a cause”, covered with tattoos and hair colours, fond of Faiz and Kafka, who is also the lyricist for the college band. She is dating the lead singer and college heartthrob, VJ (Gurfateh Singh Pirzada). Tanu Kumar (Ranjan) on the other hand is a small-town girl with a local accent. She is introduced in the movie as she recites a monologue from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, while presenting an errotic act in front of the boys from the band, with Nanki observing the same as an audience. The two characters are at odds with each other from the very beginning because of Tanu’s overt absorption in VJ. Tanu is also portrayed as someone who’d try to play the victim in all possible situations and in a sense, could be tagged an “attention seeker”.
The movie focuses on the rape accusation made by Tanu against VJ, a year after the incident, amidst the MeToo movement that had awoken in the country. The case is investigated by Danish (Taher Shabbir) who is a lawyer, preparing witnesses for VJ’s case. Danish acts as the neutral eye observing and questioning everything and everyone related to the case (though I wonder why the writers chose to assign this role to a lawyer fighting for one party, instead of a police officer, perhaps?). Danish seems to be constantly at war with his thoughts, trying to understand this game of he-said-she-said. He finds a crucial piece of this puzzle in Nanki, the witness who wasn’t even present. His conversations with her unfurl the story further, bringing forth hidden facts and secrets within the gang.
Guilty makes us constantly question our mental conditioning, proving the existence of prejudices ingrained in our brains. It addresses common questions like, “why would I rape someone if I have a girlfriend”, “why was she quiet for a year”, “she was asking for it” and more making it nearly impossible to empathise with Tanu. However, what disappoints me in this movie is the fact that, as an audience, I couldn’t really empathise with any of the characters. The movie unfolds so many complications that, somewhere down the line, the writer seems to relegate the significance of the primary agenda, weakening the moral impact by the end.
This brings me to the even more disappointing ending scene, which is both highly unrealistic and annoyingly cringe-worthy. The movie had followed a fairly genuine representation of the life of a student at the Delhi University with the intoxicating culture at college fests, internal competitiveness, the “woke” gang and particularly, “tere bhai ke sath scene ho gaya hai” (our friend is in trouble). As a DU student myself, I certainly enjoyed the first half of the movie as I could relate to most of it. However, by the end of it, reality comes to a halt and moral lectures are shoved down the audience’s throat in the most obvious way possible. It seemed like lazy writing, with the writers creating an easy way out.
The end credits, on the other hand, was a creative artistic expression and moral summary of the film, backed by the song “Kahun” written and composed by the song director of the film, Ankur Tewari. The song is a beautiful call out towards all those who silence the voices of the victims and encourages the latter to speak up. Personally, the outro was my favourite part of the whole film, without which the movie appears incomplete.
Guilty, for me, seemed like a movie with a good concept, decent execution but disappointing impact. In today’s date, where we’re aware that the rate of crime against women hasn’t gone down over the years, it is essential for mass media platforms to be intricately careful with what they present on screens to their massive audience, and ensure they do not impart the wrong message. Guilty, with its screening platform being Netflix, and its audience being our generation, had the perfect opportunity to do greater justice to the MeToo movement, which in my opinion, it failed to do.
Feature Image Credits: IMDB