A wise man once said: "The only time you actually live entirely is from 30 to 60. The young are slaves to aspirations and ambitions, while the old are servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits." Despite this some people dread aging or in this case, turning 30...
Why does turning 30 give people, more particularly women, nightmares? Maybe it has to do with the perceived 'frightful' things that come with that age . The skin starts showing the age, the glow starts fading, the tightness and firmness of the skin is missing. Besides the physical changes, a lot of people indulge in self-assessment. In fact, I know of a lot of people who still cling to their 20s even though they are in their 30s. Sadly, no one wants to age...
So is Turning 30 India's answer to Bridget Jones" Diary? Or is it 13 Going On 30? Or Sex & The City? The promos may set you thinking that it may be a rip off of the cult classic Bridget Jones" Diary, but it isn't. The basis that impelled me to think that way was for the reason that both are women-centric films that highlight the predicament of a woman, especially when it comes to the two men in her life.
Come to think of it, Turning 30 is a very urban phenomenon. By the time an urban woman turns 30, she wants to be settled in her life, be it relationship, marriage or career-wise. She's also keen to have kids as her biological clock is ticking. Women in villages and towns do not really identify with this phenomenon because by the time they are 30, they are married with a couple of kids.
Turning 30 is a slice of life film. Debutante director Alankrita Shrivastava chooses to focus on a working woman living in a metropolis, how dejected she feels when a relationship fails, her perils, the hardships and how she eventually rediscovers herself on her 31st birthday. In popular mainstream cinema in India, there's very little space for the regular working women who are in their early 30s. Their lives, especially how they cope up with relationships, has rarely been portrayed on celluloid. In that respect, Turning 30 is a first.
Turning 30 has great energy and humor as its aces. I feel, a lot of urban, working, young people will identify with several episodes from the film because it comes across as a slice of life film. Also, Gul's character in the film faces issues that several urban, independent women generally face and therefore, the identification with her character should be immense. But the problem with the film is that it loses focus in its post-interval portions. The screenplay, all of a sudden, turns formulaic after making you believe in the first hour that it was telling a real, bonafide story. Simply put, it's the formulaic component that robs the sheen off this film. Had Alankrita struck to being factual [like in the first hour], Turning 30 would've been a far more convincing and persuasive effort than it is in its present form.
Final word? Mixed feelings, honestly. The first half works, the second is long-drawn, the story stagnates and the goings-on turn formulaic. A great idea, unfortunately, doesn't translate into a great film.
Turning 30 is Naina's [Gul Panag] story as she grapples with heartbreak and a crisis in her advertising career in the face of her 30th birthday. And as she fights her anxiety and fears about being 30 years old, Naina realizes there's a lot of growing up to be done.
Post Dil Chahta Hai, a lot many film-makers were inspired to make films depicting male bonding. But chick-flicks, as they are known colloquially, are a rarity in Bollywood. Especially those dealing with female characters or designed to appeal to the female audience especially [Aisha was designed to appeal to typically young women]. However, Turning 30 is different in tone and content. It's very factual by nature. The relationships - between three gals and also between Gul and her boyfriend Sid Makkar - come across as legitimate and authentic. The smart usage of humour in the narrative, in the first hour specifically, makes it all the more compelling.
But like I pointed out beforehand, Alankrita's writing lacks the consistency of the first half in its post-interval portions. Actually, the story comes to a screeching halt in this hour. Plus, the entire episode of Gul penning a book based on her memoirs and also dragging her colleagues to court appears very formula-ridden and non-appealing. Even her ex-boyfriend [Sid Makkar] is desperate to return to her - it looks weird and phony. The lesbian track is also unwarranted. It has also been prolonged without much reason.
One would expect Turning 30 to be a songless film, but there are too many songs here. Even otherwise, the soundtrack by Siddharth-Suhas is strictly okay.
Gul Panag delivers an elegant performance. She expresses the varied feelings so well and literally grabs the film from the word go. In fact, her fine-tuned performance stays with you even after the film wraps up. Purab Kohli does very well. Sid Makkar gives a good account of himself. The two friends - portrayed by Tillotama Shome [as Malini] and Jeneva Talwar [as Ruksana] - are perfect. Satyadeep Misra gets minimal scope. Ira Dubey is okay in a brief role. Anita Kanwar [as Gul's mom] looks her part. Rahul Singh is okay. Sameer Malhotra is fair, while Bikramjeet Kanwarpal does well.
On the whole, Turning 30 has its moments, but they are few and far between. In totality, however, it misses the mark.
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
Cast: Gul Panag, Purab Kohli, Siddharth Makkar, Tillotama Shome, Jeneva Talwar, Anita Kanwar, Rahul Singh