What turning 30 brings…

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The title of homewrecker, a lesson in remaining tight-lipped about her personal life and a movie focusing on hitting the ‘dreaded’ age – Gul Panag tells City Times about taking on 30

“Indian cinema rarely ever tells the stories of girls like me,” criticises Turning 30!!! director Alankrita Srivastav when we get her on the phone. “Instead, women on screen are either seen as 21-year-old ‘bimbettes’ or the older ‘bhabhiji’ types.”

But what about the thirty-something, contemporary, working women, questions the first-time director. Where do they fit in? So, to make up for this slack, Srivastav has taken on the mission of portraying the frenzied city girl existence through her film’s female lead Gul Panag.

“When Alankrita came to me with the script, I was just about eight weeks short of my own thirtieth birthday. Doing Turning 30!!! seemed like the most logical thing for me to do at the time,” notes Panag.

In what the duo label a “chick-flick of sorts”, the model-turned-actress plays Naina, a rebellious and fiercely independent girl from Delhi, living in Bombay to make a career for herself.

“Thirty tends to be a make or break age for most – everybody at that age puts themselves under the enormous pressure of at least having secured that mid-management position or having bought that fantastic house. It’s a tense rat race,” continues Panag.

But for the Turning 30!!! actress, her thirtieth birthday did not bring with it an unwelcome sense of cold dread that plagues her character in the film.

Instead, taking her cue from fellow actresses Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Lara Dutta and Bipasha Basu (a list of thirty-plus leading ladies, who, according to Panag, are still in popular demand), she opted to embrace the age.

“It’s got a lot to do with the sort of people you surround yourself with. Fortunately for me, the people who keep me company are very progressive and they don’t believe that thirty is a big number.”

Turning 30!!! is the latest in a long line of unusual films for the actress, who has previously been seen in critically-acclaimed features such as Dor, Manorama Six Feet Under and Rann.

Quizzed on whether she’s picked her niche, Panag replies, “It’s very important to me that a film feels real and identifiable. And it’s also very important to respect the intelligence of the Indian audience. That’s what I try and do with my films.”

Meanwhile, the actress has also played host to rumours that she was responsible for her co-star Purab Kohli divorcing his wife Yamini. But the homewrecker tag is one that has prompted her to firmly declare, “My personal life is strictly personal and it is going to remain that way. I won’t be talking about that at all. Purab is very easy to be with because we share a very similar outlook”

However, director Srivastav has this to say about the relationship status of her leading pair: “It’s all baseless. Gul and Purab have very good chemistry on screen and they work well together. But there’s nothing else happening. Fortunately, for me they’re both very mature and haven’t let this affect the promotion of the movie.”


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