Thirty is the new 20, goes the slogan, so not too surprisingly, the film Turning 30!!! (with three exclamation marks, one for each decade) is about a woman who, on reaching the age at which it’s all downhill afterwards, has a hissy fit about her life and her romance status.
In real life, turning 30, with or without exclamation marks, is more than just about agonizing over recently acquired love handles or lost love interests. It can actually be empowering for some urban working professionals: greater financial security and personal independence for some; the freedom to reject desk jobs and conventionally accepted wisdom for others. Of course, the group in question is the small and privileged majority that lives and works in private companies, media houses and advertising firms in cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore and has the kind of lifestyles that television commercials celebrate.
It’s complicated: Naina in Turning 30!!! panics because she is ‘jobless and manless’ at 30.
Being 30 in the noughties This is the income bracket that recent romcoms and movies such as Turning 30!!! target—the pleasure-seeking men and post-feminist women for whom the inability to make the most of the latest Croma or Zara sale represents a new weekly low.
There’s so much more to crossing 29 than agonizing over whether the rakish and still-single boss is actually suited to your ultimate plans of settling down, or whether or not your college sweetheart is indeed the man or woman for you. There’s no doubt that romantic desire is an inescapable truth of adult life, but most films are still about footloose 20-somethings, who are starting off their careers and who are as petrified about growing up as they are about wearing the wrong combination of clothes. We’re far away from the time when 40-plus actors would play college students, but we still like our stars to be virgins in love, unscarred by pain and unsullied by heartbreak.
The lead character of Turning 30!!!, by first-time film-maker Alankrita Shrivastava, has been a bit more around the block than most Hindi film heroines. Naina (Gul Panag) loses her job and breaks up with her boyfriend just when it is deemed that she is hormonally perfect for him. She mopes to her friends, “I’m turning 30. It’s f****** hell! Jobless and manless!” The problem is a relatively
simple one, and will no doubt have resonance with the small but influential group of those Mumbaikars for whom the next big squeeze is a far greater issue than deciding who to work or vote for. Getting between the sheets isn’t just a more entertaining way of confronting the terrible 30s—it’s perhaps the best way to deal with a world deemed too complicated to sum up in a running time of 120 minutes.
Turning 30!!! will release across theatres on 14 January.
Nandini Ramnath is a film critic with Time Out Mumbai (www.timeoutmumbai.net).
Write to Nandini at firstname.lastname@example.org