Films | Movie Reviews | Turning 30 – Review

Turning 30 – Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on January 16, 2011 | No Comments

Film – Turning 30

Producer – Prakash Jha Productions

Director – Alankrita Srivastava

Writer – Alankrita Srivastava

Cast – Gul Panag, Purab Kohli, Siddharth Makkar, Tillotama Shome, Jeneva Talwar

Music – Siddharth, Suhas

Template film-making is the easiest and surest way to ensure absorption of the product by a larger portion of the target audience. In ‘Turning 30’, debutante director, Alankrita Srivastava takes this safest route to tell her story. It is, no doubt a story of most urban women even across boundaries but told with an insight that is more general than gentle, taking away the main thrust of the experience; identification and catharsis.

The film tells a story of a regular, urban, well-educated, career-woman at the cusp of her thirtieth birthday and how this impending event threatens to change her life beyond recognition. The coming of this landmark event is seen as an unhappy milestone against which certain ‘successes’ in life need to be measured namely career progression and married status. Dumped by her three-year long boyfriend just when she was getting ready to accept his marriage proposal along with continual office politics, Naina, the protagonist (Gul Panag) finds herself at a cusp of personal and professional disaster.

Unable to handle the heartbreak, Naina tries hard to deal with it by pursuing the now-engaged-to-someone-else ex boyfriend to get back with her, seducing him, picking a fight with his parents, having a rebound affair and the works. Her two best pals Ruksana and Malini help along even as they battle their own demons of a philandering husband and sexual identity. Vignettes of different worlds collide as the film tries to construct a real-life picture of how urban, educated women live their lives and what women really want.

Accessible and ‘everyman’ in its approach, the film veers towards an overview rather than an in- depth character study. While its steady pace and well-placed turning points engage attention, it is the complete lack of a new voice or vision that makes the entire exercise as mundane. What should be identification becomes a laborious sense of ‘been-there-done-that’. What should be catharsis becomes a sigh of relief of Naina finally finding what she wants and it all being over.

Interestingly, it is the un-commented upon lives of the tertiary characters of Ruksana and Malini that draw sharper interest than the rather prosaic and tedious one of Naina. Ruksana is an average-r than apple woman, married early to her college sweetheart who wants little in life besides a safe and secure married life and has simple views on emotional matters which embody, ‘Getting a haircut is the best remedy for a haircut’. Her dealing with her husband’s infidelities and finding solace in womanhood is not the escapist route of a brain-dead woman. Rather it is the innate wisdom and silent strength of a woman who is willing to change her priorities depending on the cards life deals her. Jeneva Talwar as Ruksana brings a verve to an otherwise easy to stereotype character.

Malini, defines more of this silent strength as she deals with the knowledge of her own homosexuality. Her decision of coming out in the open and facing her identity along with the resident social issues is a powerful scene. Tillottama Shome’s sparkling performance and arresting screen presence give the character a life it otherwise did not have.

The film paints its men sympathetically. They are as grey and real as the women. The film shows them as people wanting almost the same things and having the same doubts and insecurities as the woman. Well, which is how it is in real life as well, isn’t it? The film takes charge of the characters of Jai and Rishabh, taking care not painting stereotypes in their identities.

The ultimate aim however, seems to be a journey of bringing a note of self-realisation in women as Naina completes a journey of her own and learns to fight her own battles. But a plaid mosaic of incidents, predictable emotional turning points and a rather semi-mature view of relationships (and film-making) turn this film into a passably watchable fare that ultimately gives little to its viewers than a slice of life. For the audience it is targeted at, will sadly amount to nothing new or entertaining.

Fatema H.Kagalwala

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