Two weeks before her 30th birthday, Naina played by Gul Panag, is in bliss. She has a happening job and a boyfriend who cooks for her using olive oil so we know that he?s just right. But then, quite suddenly, it all falls apart. The job unravels, the boyfriend dumps her and she finds herself aging, tearful and alone.
Turning 30, written and directed by debutant Alankrita Shrivastava, wants to be a sexy, insightful, tough-talking chick-flick ? think a desiBridget Jones? Diary or Sex and the City. But all it manages to do is make you laugh ? unintentionally of course.
The performances are feeble. Panag works hard but there isn?t much she can do with such a weepy, whining, singularly un-charming character. Naina smokes, swears and has frequent sex, which in Bollywood is shorthand for the independent Indian woman. In her moments of deepest rage and anguish, she looks like a woman possessed who could stroll unnoticed into the next Ram Gopal Varma horror film.
Naina?s boyfriends and girlfriends have even less personality ? Purab Kohli wearing multi-coloured scarves makes a slightly better impression than the imminently bland Sid Makkar.
But what sinks this ship is the lame writing. Alankrita wants to create the modern Indian urban experience so the action takes place in bars, offices, coffee shops and beauty parlors. We have the philandering husband, the token gay man who calls his lover pumpkin and even a lesbian. But the characterization is comic-book and the mostly English dialogue sounds like rejected material from the Chicken Soup series.
Naina gets a droning voice-over in which she frequently states the obvious. So she says things like: ?It?s lonely and I?m scared. But I?m going to put on a brave front? or ?I had reached a point in my life where no one truly understood me.?
Occasionally, she asks deep questions like: Are all dreams just illusion? My favourite moment comes during Naina?s 30th birthday party, in which she and her closest friends are playing Truth or Dare. When one announces that he and his wife are going to have a baby, the other responds with: ?good one.?
At the end of the film, I wondered: if turning 30 is so devastating, where does that leave us 40-year-olds. I?m going with two stars.