TURNING 30. Director: Alankrita Shrivastava. Players: Gul Panag, Purab Kohli, Sid Makkar Music: Siddharth-Suhas. Theatrical Release: Prakash Jha Films
Turning 30 will go down as Bollywood’s first “chick-flick.”
Naina (Panag) wakes up one fine day to realize that she’s just a few days shy of turning thirty. A life which appears to be picture perfect—a perfect boyfriend who cooks for her, a great job, great friends, spa–outings—suddenly crashes like a house of cards. Her job is in jeopardy, her boyfriend ditches her for a richer girl and, on top of everything, she is turning 30, which feels like a death-knell for all her dreams. Naina pines for her lost love while w(h)ining like a veritable female version of Devdas. Of course, being the liberated working woman of today, she is not above hitting the sack with her old flame (Kohli).
Being a Bollywood chick flick makes a movie a niche film by definition, but it is also, unfortunately, one with which not many even in the intended audience can empathize. True, every “turning 30” angst-ridden moment is captured; but the portrayal is so pretentious, the story so contrived that somewhere around the middle of the movie you stop sympathizing with this lady who just won’t get over the boyfriend who ditched her. For a “first of its kind” movie, the first scene, surprisingly, brings a strong bout of déjà vu —where have we seen urban, upwardly mobile, emancipated women gamboling in a bathtub and puffing away at cigarettes? Umm, Sex And The City, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Almost Single by Advaita Kala?
Does the movie succeed as India’s first chick-flick? One important ingredient of a chick-flick is humor—the more tongue-in-cheek, the better. Lighter moments in this movie are few and far between, most of them unintentional, which makes the movie feel like a long drawn out bout of PMS the protagonist is suffering and making us suffer.
As for the performances, there’s only that much a fine actor can do with weak writing. All the ensemble actors have excellent credentials, but fail because of the weak story. The characters are single-dimensional and the language they speak is bookish to the degree of being funny. Stating the obvious every now and then in Panag’s voice-over is a case in point. Where are the insights?
The music has some great guitar, especially in the title track, which honestly has more verve in it than the entire movie.The rest of the score, except “Tinka Tinka,” is largely forgettable.
Turning 30, the movie and otherwise, is really no big deal!
Madhumita Gupta is a freelance writer and teacher.