A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Guilty, a drama from India (in Hindi with English subtitles, or dubbed), is set in a prestigious, fictional university in New Delhi. A sexually provocative female student accuses an attractive, popular classmate of rape after a night of drunken and drugged behavior at a campus party. What follows is a blending of witness accounts, legal maneuvers, and family and school interventions that cloud both the truth and the relationships between the principal characters. At the heart of the story is the accused rapist's girlfriend, who believes in his innocence. Viewers can expect scenes of highly-charged suspense and friction, including a slap, fighting, and the abduction of a young man (who's held only briefly). Spoiler alert: a brutal sexual attack is shown; its reliability may be questioned. A loving couple kisses, engages in mild foreplay, and is shown waking up in bed together. A man masturbates in an underground crossway. Language is coarse throughout, including countless uses of "f--k," "s--t," and other curses. Partying students use alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs to get drunk and high. Casual marijuana use is shown in other scenes. The film, which addresses issues of sexual abuse, classism, and gender inequity, along with its inclusion of drug use and profanity, isn't suitable for most kids. For older teens, however, it may be an opportunity for insightful reflection and relevant discussion.
What's the story?
Nanki (Kiara Advani) is a stellar college student when GUILTY begins. An iconoclastic young woman, Nanki is a brilliant, beautiful songwriter in her senior year at St. Martin's, a university in New Delhi. After a drug and alcohol-fueled campus party, Nanki's boyfriend, Vijay (Gurfatch Pirzada), is accused of rape by Tanu (Akansh Ranji Kapoor), a young woman at St. Martin's on scholarship. It's clear to everyone that Tanu had a passionate crush on Vijay and seemed intent upon seducing him. When she identifies Vijay as a rapist, confidence in her story is low. The adored son of a rich, famous politician, and leader of the band that Nanki writes music for, Vijay denies the allegations with vehemence. Nanki is Vijay's most ardent supporter. Interviews conducted by Danish (Taher Shabbir), the lawyer hired to lead Vijay's defense, Nanki's commitment, and the accused's family's fervent advocacy, unfortunately, cannot stop the rising support Tanu begins to pull together on her behalf. In the ensuing conflict, stories are changed, complex issues emerge, secrets are uncovered, and the stakes build to an inescapable and an unsettling conclusion.
Is it any good?
A heartfelt effort to illuminate the complex subject matter, along with vibrant performances and an artful selection of music, somewhat make up for some distracting contrivances and missteps. The characters, particularly heroine, victim, and predator (not revealed conclusively until the last moments), are shaded and impenetrable for most of the movie. That's one of the better things about Guilty. However, there are so many witnesses, band members, detractors, supporters, and concerned adults, the multitudes eventually overload the already-tangled plotting. Finally, the contrived ending is problematic. There's so much to be exposed and so much emotion to release that the selected site for the climactic moments feels both impersonal and overwrought at the same time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the positive impact of watching movies from other countries. What do audiences learn about the commonality of humanity by seeing different lives and cultures? How did Guilty give life to the universality of college rape, classism, and gender inequity? In what ways were the students portrayed in the movie like those in your world? How were they different?
This film addresses the #MeToo movement, prominent in today's culture. Director Ruchi Narain takes her viewers on a journey that is ambiguous until the final scenes. Whom did you find yourself believing over the course of Guilty? Why? In the final analysis, what is Narain's point of view about the issue? How does her approach to the material show why it's difficult to find the truth?
"Rashomon" is a term often used to characterize a movie or story that shows the same event from different points of view. Find out the origin of the term. Can you think of some other movies that use Rashomon as a base for storytelling? (If you've never seen the Japanese original, it's recommended for mature teens.)
How do Nanki's tattoos and body piercings help define her character?
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