Alankrita Shrivastava, a debutante director, came up with the idea for her movie Turning 30, when, one day, she was caught in an “unwomanly” situation.
“I was driving through the Mumbai’s suburbs in the rain when my car broke down,” she recalls, “It was incredibly stressful and very difficult for me to get help and reach my workplace. Later while mulling over the incident, I wondered how women – alone and ready to hit the 30s – would deal with the chaos of urban life and the demands of home, career and social life. Where would they find help? How could they make time for romance and a little wild enjoyment thrown in for good measure? This is when I realised that a film on this subject had never been made. I presented my slice-of-life to Prakash Jha and he was happy to produce the film.”
Turning 30 tells the story of an advertising executive played by Gul Panag, who loses her job and is bombarded with unsolicited advice. She has a crisis as a jobless and boyfriend-less woman who tries to run from beauty parlour to spa, not knowing whether she wants sex, love or a ‘normal’ life.
“Our films always portray women in coy roles,” says Gul. “Reality is far removed from this. Women go through doubts, diffidence and tremendous stress as they pass through the 20s – with the stress of performing well in college, career – and arrive at their 30s, only to be surrounded by more drama. I enjoyed working on Turning 30 because it narrates the urban Indian woman’s story. It is non-judgmental and is deeply significant for women.”
The film points to the ‘new woman’ who lives alone, buys and sells property and invests in the stock market.
It attempts to portray women, in their 30s, as gutsy, full of life, happy and successful.
Meena Shah, a jewellery designer, says: “The Hindi film stars who play coy heroines are in their 30s. Rani Mukherjee, Kajol, Preity Zinta, Aishwarya Rai are already in their 30s and, a few among them are still unmarried, by choice. Even in middle class society, unmarried daughters are becoming heads of households. They manage not only their own, but also their parents’ lives and wealth. Many continue to support their siblings or look after their parents. But yes, romance and love sometimes can be elusive for them.
Some choose to adopt kids and some choose to have a love child. Their parents have been supportive of these decisions too.”
Women having a good time at a pub or discotheque, travelling alone, getting together to party don’t invite stares any more.
Where money is concerned, women don’t expect their partners to pick up the tab. Many young women also own homes, buy gadgets and cars. They have made the transition from the ‘cared for’ group to the ‘care-giver’ group, with ease and aplomb.
Gul, who turned 30 last year, believes that hers is the new generation that walks a bit slower but notices the world around with more curious eyes.
“I am surer of myself and I know my goals,” she says, “I am happy to be 30. Today, India offers opportunities to women than ever before because we bring the perfect mix of wisdom and exuberance. We look good, are focused and energetic. So, what’s stopping us from achieving our dreams?” Nothing indeed.