Starring Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Zaira Wasim, Rohit Suresh Saraf
Directed by Shonali Bose
In a moment of anguished amusement a concerned family friend during dinner tells the bereaved couple who have lost their 18-year daughter how much she feels for them.
After all, she has lost her 72-year old mother-in-law too.
I didn’t know whether to be angered or amused by this moment, as the lady meant well. But then we all mean well even when we are inattentive to others’ distress.
In The Sky Is Pink there are innumerable moments when the gravity of the situation is punctuated by bouts of dry humour. It’s as though director Shonali Bose (who has gone through the unimaginable grief of losing a child) wants us to not go away without hope, to not feel the burden of the couple’s grief as they battle death to save their child, and fail. This is no spoiler. We all know the film is a fascsimile of a true-life story.
And yet this conscious effort to keep the going bouncy and bright in spite of the looming presence of death, could have gone horribly wrong. It could have ended up like Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker who just can’t get the laughs that his tragic life cries out for.
The war-cry to stay positive is implemented with exceeding delicacy in The Sky is Pink. We never feel the burden of their grief as Aditi and Niren, played with an unostentatious vivacity by Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar, repel the family’s collective anguish with loads of joyous laughter. There are loads of family holidays in exotic places. And London is a living character in the plot.
And yet the dilemma of mortality is never trivialized, glamorized or underplayed. We feel the presence of death underlining every moment in this celebration of life. Shonali Bose’s narrative sparkles with a joie de vivre. There is an unstoppable gusto woven into the story’s somber spirit, like a shot of rum in coke. Bracing and clarity-inducing.
A great deal of the credit for the effective display of the family’s unbridled determination to colour the blue sky pink, goes to the principal actors (the supporting cast could have been better). While Farhan and Priyanka, specially the latter, are powerful in their expressions of parental anguish, I have to confess that at times they look unconvincing as parents of two grown-up children.
To their credit the couple never lets us feel the actors’ inexperience with the tragedy on-hand. Zaira Wasim as the dying daughter (passably good) is also the film’s narrator speaking to us from death in a manner that’s never ghoulish, always engaging.
The flashbacks showing the couple’s past courtship and sexual indiscretions are a bit of a distraction we could have done without.When Farhan and Priyanka play they hormonally charged-up lovers they look like people who could do with a room that has a nice view into the outside world. In one over-long sequence Farhan sneaks Priyanka her head concealed in a helmet into his parents’ home. What starts off as a mildly amusing lovers’ flirty flight becomes a lengthy nuisance.
In one sequence the dying girl’s brother (Rohit Suresh Saraf, some strong emotional moments come from this newcomer) consoles his sister on the phone by telling her she can be re-born as one of the other family members, or else they will join her soon anyway.
Such moments, prone to be interpreted as insensitive create an opposite impact. The director knows bereavement closely. She alchemizes grief into something much more strong and durable. This film is so close to life, so laugh-like , if I may, that I felt the grief of the Chaudhary family as though I was part of it.