If you believe 40 is the new 30, then turning 30 is not such a bad thing. However, writer-director Alankrita Shrivastava and the characters in the English-Hindi language film Turning 30!!! think that turning 30 is the end of the world.
Gul Panag plays 29-year-old Naina on the brink of marriage, who is unceremoniously dumped on the eve of her birthday for a more suitable girl. Naina is consumed by angst about being unmarried, unappreciated at work and a ticking biological clock. Everywhere she goes people seem to be commenting on ageing and missing the bus. Strangers warn her about sagging breasts and ageing ungracefully.
An otherwise independent advertising executive, she frets about turning 30 over copious glasses of wine, stubbing out cigarettes while punching paragraphs on her laptop. Naina is Shrivastava’s version of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, minus the Manolo Blahniks, walk-in wardrobe and clever insights into contemporary society.
Supported by two friends, and on the rebound, she quickly finds comfort in the arms of college sweetheart Jai (Purab Kohli). But Jai wants to be more than a one-night stand—he’s looking for a commitment. As Naina comes to terms with crossing over a decade, she begins to reinvent herself, and takes charge of her life.
Shrivastava works hard to create a cool and contemporary world where sex before marriage, affairs, bisexuality, boob jobs and Page 3 are part of the canvas. The characters make choices, and Shrivastava does not judge any of them. Yet they remain two-dimensional, unable to earn sympathy and affection.
The biggest problems ailing Turning 30!!! are a lack of energy, pace or tangible storyline and stiff writing which, when translated into English dialogues, sounds like scripted speeches. Sluggishly crafted and without originality of thought in screenplay or storytelling, like the novel Naina is converting her late night musings into, Turning 30!!! might have been better off as a chick-lit novel.
Yamla Pagla Deewana
The opening credits set the mood for this comedy, made with the explicit purpose of showcasing the Deol men, and appealing to the NRI audience and frontbenchers. Over crackling shots from movies of the 1970s and 1980s, a voiceover recalls stories of siblings separated at birth and the numerous ways that that might have transpired. As the credits end, we see Paramveer Singh Dhillon (Sunny Deol) with his Canadian wife, two sons and mother living the quintessential NRI Indian life in Vancouver. But when a house guest tells them that he is aware of the whereabouts of Paramveer’s long-lost father and separated-at-birth brother, Param jets off to Banaras (Varanasi) to find his family.
Dharam (Dharmendra) and Gajodhar (Bobby Deol) Singh are petty conmen who, against the odds, pull off clever tricks during the day and spend their evenings drinking Patiala pegs. Paramveer’s search for his brother and father happens too easily and the reunion is bereft of any emotional underlay. After the opening with Sunny, most of the film is about Bobby. The father and elder brother pander to his whims and indulge his every wish. When Gajodhar stands to lose Saheba (Kulraj Randhawa), the girl he loves, the trio head to the mustard fields of Punjab to reunite the couple. Mistaken identities, lies, cheating and rivalry follow, providing the ingredients for the chaotic proceedings that define this comedy.
The unbearable pre-interval hour is made up for by a rambunctious and far more enjoyable second half when the action shifts to Saheba’s home. Look out for the scene where her five overprotective brothers, led by Joginder Singh (Anupam Kher), interview the prospective NRI groom. Also watch out for striking performances by Kher, Randhawa, Mukul Dev as a constantly drunk brother, Sucheta Khanna as cousin Poli who secretly wears an “I Love Caneda” T-shirt and Amit Mistry as the hanger-on friend.
Bobby and Dharmendra rely on some old-fashioned hamming and, therefore, even make Sunny look good. Bobby’s lazy attempt at a UP accent further exposes his lack of acting skills. At times, it is visually discomforting to watch Dharmendra as he struggles through dances and fight sequences. Sunny seems to be having the most fun, but overall all the three Deol men appear smug throughout.
Writer Jasvinder Singh Bath adds an affectionate authenticity to the Sikh-Punjabi-NRI milieu. Those who enjoy north Indian, Punjabi humour will have a laugh. If you don’t, this film will leave you feeling exhausted and a tad bored. While there are some truly funny gags, there is too much flab, ego massaging and indulgence to endure.
Turning 30!!! and Yamla Pagla Deewana released in theatres on Friday.