Friday, June 17, 2011

Movie Review: Turning 30

Starring: Gul Panag, Purab Kohli, Siddharth Makkar
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
Original Release Date: January 14, 2011

*Few Spoilers*

"Chick flicks" seem to be a newer emerging genre of Bollywood films. We fairly recently saw the release of Sonam Kapoor's Aisha and are now looking forward to Anushka Sharma's forthcoming film, Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl. Turning 30 is a film that also takes a stab at this genre, but whether it was successful or not is the question. In a Bollyworld where heroines are eternally 25, this movie actually tackles the issues that many middle-aged women face. So, how did it fare?

...not very well. The film starts off fairly promising. Naina (Gul) is left distraught when her boyfriend (Siddharth) suddenly dumps her and she realizes that she's almost 30 and single--a nightmare for most Indian women in society. She tries to come to terms with her situation with the help of her friends but encounters further complications at her job at a famous advertising agency. Naina tries various tactics to win back her boyfriend but is unsuccessful, until an old flame reenters her life creating even more confusion for a now 30 year old Naina.

A movie with a strong start trails off into an extremely predictable and overused plot, with really nothing new to offer. Naina's failure to let go of her ex-boyfriend becomes almost pathetic and unbearable to watch. Naina is supposed to represent an independent, modern woman yet can't seem to get by without a man in her life. There are far too many scenes of Naina simply crying to a background of cheesy music. The more interesting subplots of the film are given insufficient screen time. One of Naina's best friends reveals that she's a lesbian. Not only was her actual revelation somewhat rushed an unnatural, but the entire story seems to get glossed over. Naina's other friend deals with her husband's infidelity--another issue that is simply brushed off.

In a movie that is meant to break so many boundaries, there were a slew of cliches and stereotypes. I'm a modern woman so I must be a chain smoker who curses frequently. I'm an artist from abroad so I must be a hipster who wears colorful scarves. I just got dumped so I must get a (rather tacky) haircut. I'm a lesbian so I must dress in long Bohemian skirts. And the list just goes on.

But my biggest annoyance with Turning 30 was the language. The whole movie was pretty much in English, with a few Hindi phrases interjected here and there. This really shouldn't be a problem, but it made the movie seem so unnatural and unrealistic. The actors just couldn't seem to get the tone and flow of their English lines quite right, making everything they said seem forced as if they were just trying too hard to be young and "cool." I honestly believe that this would've been a much better movie if it was in Hindi.

One bright spot of Turning 30 was Gul Panag. Despite the pale storyline and rather pathetic character, you just can't help but love her. She has a certain charm and cuteness about her that draws in the viewer. There's also something about her voice that's very relatable. The rest of the cast was largely unmemorable.

Offbeat Bollywood films are often a nice change from the normal matka-jhatka-filled flicks--but only when done right. Turning 30 tried a little too hard to be urban, making the story and characters seem unnatural. I do commend Turning 30 for tackling untouched issues in Bollywood and think this film is a good start to a genre that will hopefully thrive in the future. Catch it for free on YouTube if you're bored and want a (somewhat stereotypical) glimpse into the life of the urban Indian woman. If anything, the move does manage to put a smile on your face at the end.

Final Verdict: 4/10


  1. I started watching this on Youtube (the production company put it up) and had to stop after the first song. I wanted to see it because I love Tillotoma Shome but I gave up after about five minutes.

  2. I was planning on watching it on youtube, even though the reviews were bad...

  3. @Bombay Talkes I'm surprised I got through all of it! I watched it in 3-4 installments if that means anything.

    @Lime Do check it out even if it's just to laugh at it!