The Sky is Pink
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim, Rohit Saraf
Director: Shonali Bose
After watching Shonali Bose’s film The Sky is Pink, a gentle lingering sadness settled over me. It was difficult to shake it off. To get Aisha (Zaira Wasim) out of my head. Or for that matter, it was hard not think about Moose/Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), Panda/Niren (Farhan Akhtar) and Giraffe/Ishaan (Rohit Saraf)—names that sound straight out of My Family & Other Animals!
And that, I am told, is often the mark of meaningful thought-provoking cinema. Based on the life of Aisha Chaudhary who suffered from SCID, a rare and fatal genetic disorder which cuts short one’s lifespan drastically, The Sky is Pink, certainly makes the grade.
At the very outset, we the audience along with the parents become aware of Aisha’s condition and the fact that a complete recovery for their daughter is unlikely. And then we watch Moose and Panda soldier on, as a couple and as a family to give her an extended lease of life. There is heartbreak and sunshine aplenty through the film with a lightness that one finds missing in most such stories. Facing the sorrow of losing a child before one’s own time is any parent’s nightmare and most films so far have tackled it with a natural grimness —October is one of the better examples.
The Sky is Pink goes a step further in showcasing an entire lifetime of playing the caregiver and the patient, both equally devastating. Only, in this instance, there is joy and sorrow mixed in equal parts, a certain salubrious cheeriness that prevents TSIP from getting dreary. The writing follows a life-like rhythm, going back and forth in time through different events in seemingly no chronological order and yet in the end, they stack up neatly, giving us a moving account.
Shonali Bose, director and writer who has earlier helmed Amu and Margarita with a Straw, has a unique voice and yen for stories about situations that arise out of crushing personal tragedies. Calamities that involve being the square peg in a round hole or bearing the curse of a terrible fait accompli. Bose rings and air of casualness to these dramatic circumstances in her films devoid of tearjerking melodrama.
But tears do come as you watch Aditi and Niren navigate watching over Aisha and Ishaan parted by their circumstances. Alternating between life and death situations and cheery light-hearted ones like Aditi getting jealous about Niren meeting an acquaintance to advise her on her divorce or the mix up in the DNA report make for a delightful mix.
Having an almost picture perfect cast can sometimes get in the way of a natural storytelling style but this family scores well on that front. Priyanka Chopra Jonas is restrained, mature and determined in equal measure, matched perfectly by Farhan Akhtar. Both display their acting chops to advantage as they transition from the young carefree couple to one struggling battling for their child’s survival.
Particularly poignant is a scene after Aisha’s death when they confront the fact that for the first time in their life, they are drifting apart. Chopra Jones shines in that moment of handwringing agony.
Wasim, as the young precocious Aisha is adorable, suitably impish and mature in turns.
The real hero in this instance, however, would have to be the zany uplifting story and to that effect, with The Sky is Pink, Bose delivers a fitting salutation to life.