“Priyanka and Farhan infuse life into the film that deals with the crushing weight of death. The Sky is Pink (TSIP) is both uplifting and heartbreaking, but also leans towards exhaustion”
Hindi cinema has fortunately tackled the subject of terminal illness with utmost care and sensitivity most of the times, without being cheesy. Doyens of film-making like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Asit Sen had stressed on optimism and celebration of life despite the crushing inevitability of death in their films – Anand and Safar, that had a seminal effect on next-gen makers like Karan Johar who dabbled in this idea in his 2003 outing, Kal Ho Na Ho. The Sky is Pink, helmed by RSVP and Roy Kapur Films, and directed by Shonali Bose (of Margarita with a Straw fame), traces the journey of a couple that spans 30 years and the heart-warming struggle for their daughter’s life who has a rare and fatal genetic disorder.
The film finds its roots in the real-life inspiring story of Aisha Chaudhary (played by Zaira Wasim), daughter of Aditi and Niren Chaudhry(played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar), who went on to become a motivational speaker before succumbing to pulmonary fibrosis, a condition triggered due to her SCID syndrome ,a rare genetic disease. Aisha was only 18 when she embraced death but she embodied spunk and positivity all her life – the trait she probably inherited from her parents who fought against all odds to lend her few more breaths.
Director Shonali Bose makes her the narrative voice and Aisha becomes the spine of the plot that traverses 30 years and moves back and forth to chronicle the experiences of the family and switches gears between India and London. It is peppered with genuine bits of emotions that tug at your heartstrings and humor despite casting an piercing gaze at the discomforting conflicts between the couple. Shonali, who has co-written the story with Nilesh Maniyar and Juhi Chaturvedi, plugs in some heart-wrenchingly honest scenes into the narrative. In an argument that ensues in the ladies restroom of a restaurant, Aditi and Niren inflict each other with biting accusations. It is a sheer reflection of their inability to cope up with the trauma of losing Aisha. In another devastatingly poignant moment, Niren and his son Ishaan spend a wordless moment in his room while breaking down in grief.
But the film doesn’t scathe you with such intensity often. There are flabby portions which add to the inordinate length of the film(149 minutes of run time) and treatment that feels too manicured and sanitized. Shonali’ s previous outing MWAS had an inherent rawness but TSIP, in its exploration of emotional ties in the family, is low on the sense of messiness. It adopts a cliched route with Aditi ticking off a self-made bucket list for her daughter that also involves a dating activity, pet indulgence, a vacay at beach destination. She also imparts casual gyaan on kiss and sex to her.
The makers also create distinctive looks for the lead pair to convey age and timeline.Costumes designed by Eka Lakhani involves baggy pants for Farhan and high-waist jeans for Priyanka for their younger versions based in Chandni Chowk, Delhi while their matured versions wear tuxedos and blazers.
The Sky Is Pink works at multiple levels and its biggest strength is the solid confluence of talent – Farhan Akhtar and Priyanka Chopra. Farhan brings in an unmistakable maturity and vulnerability to his part. Priyanka, seen after 3.5 years, is crackling in the film’s emotional parts. She approaches her character with a ferocious streak that perfectly brings out how much consumed she was in her daughter’s upbringing. The two also share a terrific chemistry on screen. Zaira Wasim does a fabulous job as the zesty Aisha and the very thought of her exit from Bollywood haunts me. Rohit Saraf , who plays her brother Ishaan, is sincere in the portrayal of Aisha’s pillar of strength.
To be honest, the film’s second hour exhausted me but I had goosebumps and a lump-in-throat moment when the ending credits featured the footages of the real Aisha and the Chaudhary’s. Despite the minor glitches, The Sky Is Pink emerges as a sensitive film that celebrates love, laughter and life.