Gurfateh Pirzada made his Netflix debut with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions backed film, Guilty. Directed by Ruchi Narian, the film also stars Kiara Advani, Akansha Ranjan Kapoor and Taher Shabbir. One of the main highlights of Guilty is the #MeToo movement which helped a lot of women to speak up and share the names of sexual predators in Bollywood and other industries.
In the film, Gurfateh Pirzada plays the role of college heartthrob VJ who is accused of sexual assault by Akansha’s character Tanu. Koimoi got a chance to interact with the talented actor and he spoke about doing a negative role, #MeToo and more.
What do you have to say about the response Guilty received?
I don’t think I or anyone from the team expected people will love the film so much. I was shocked that people are loving my performance until the end. So, I genuinely worried throughout the whole shoot wondering ‘will people hate me?’. I was worried that I will fall into that space of negative character so much. I was pleasantly surprised by all the messages I am getting.
Were you apprehensive while taking this negative role at the start of the career?
Wo thoughts toh hamesha rehte hai. I’m not from a film family so I always wanted to start (with something good). My sister (Mehreen Pirzada) started doing films by the time I could enter the industry. She always told me that you learn and wait for the right opportunity and it should be like you arrived. I always wanted my first film to be the one people are talking about through which my performance will come through. I never wanted it to be just another film with a very normal character and logon ko pasand aaye, nahi aaye, pata nahi. This is the thing that people are noticing in Guilty. I was worried ke aisa na ho ke negative space mein main fall kar raha hoon kyunki hamare industry mein log typecast jaldi ho jate hai. But, thankfully, that’s not the case here.
#MeToo movement shook Bollywood. As an outsider, did you have any thoughts while taking up a film based on the subject which the industry itself doesn’t talk much about?
I think #MeToo is important. I am an outsider now and I will always be an outsider even after 10 years. My work will speak for me and get me insight over time. I want to do films that will make a change and are relevant to today’s time. Commercial cinema is also important and I would like to that too if I get the chance. But my first choice will always be stories like these where I can make a change.
If I am not wrong, mera and Taher ka character kaafi logon ko offer ki gayi thi and just because #MeToo was a sensitive topic, a lot of people said no. That’s why it took some time to make the film. That’s when Dharma decided to make the film with completely new people.
Guilty not only highlights #MeToo but also shows us what consent means which a lot of people fail to understand. What do you have to say about it?
I remember, when #MeToo happened, I was talking to someone about how this movement is important and it’s great that it’s come out. Not only in Bollywood but in every industry, some people face this; whether it’s the guy or girl. Obviously, girls have to face it a lot, but it happens with guys also. That person said that ‘but we are guys, guys will try it. Whether she says yes or not, it’s on her, but we will try’. I noticed how even the elite of the elite don’t understand what consent is. Even in cities like Bombay, people don’t understand consent. They think it’s their right to approach a girl even though there is no reciprocation. That is what wrong with society and men make women feel uncomfortable. I think this film has brought about a change in a lot of things. I got a lot of messages from men also that it is such an eye-opener that you guys have done this film. Some have mentioned that we have also crossed the lines at some point of life, not to that extent and we have also made some women uncomfortable.
The film is receiving criticism also, but even that’s important because it can help us to do better next time.
Have you been at the receiving end of casting couch?
It happens with everyone. Mere saath hua hai, people approach you. I have never said that give me this and I will give you something in return. I come from fashion and it has a certain background and majority of the people know it. One of the reasons I didn’t do much fashion even when I was a model. It’s prevalent but people are now mindful of what happens. But I don’t believe that anyone will give you work (with something in return).
What are the list of directors in Bollywood you wish to work with?
I really want to work with Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. I love their work. I really like the work RSVP is doing and Yash Raj Films too.