It would take genius to make a film about death and bring in more emotions into it than an overbearing melancholy. Shonali Bose tries with The Sky Is Pink, and fails; in the effort to avoid melodrama and examine every experience of the Chaudary family in coping with a child’s illness and impending death, she fails to focus on any one aspect that would have made the film emotionally moving.
Based on the true story, of the Chaudharys, as seen from the perspective of Aisha (Zaira Wasim), who wrote a book titled My Little Epiphanies, before she died of a lung disease, the film packs in too much — the strain a marriage goes through when a child suffers from terminal illness, the problems of the child who is neglected when all the attention is on the sibling, the family doing all it can to make Aisha’s last days happy, the mental toll on the mother due to her constant vigilance, or the trauma of going on as before when the girl dies. So, the only part that works is when the dragon mom Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and tenacious father Niren (Farhan Akhtar) try to fill Aisha’s short life with romance, adventure and accomplishment (motivational speaker, artist, writer), while also being unable to accept the imminence of her death.
There is that irritatingly jaunty tone in which a dead Aisha narrates the story right from the Chandni Chowk romance of her parents she calls Moose and Panda, to her funeral and beyond. Niren and Aditi have a healthy son Ishaan aka Giraffe (Rohit Saraf), but have lost their infant daughter to an immune disorder, so when she finds herself pregnant again, and her newly acquired religious belief (Christianity) prevents her from having an abortion, she gives birth to Aisha and finds that the child suffers from the same illness.
Despite strained financial resources, they go to London to give Aisha the best treatment, even if it means they have to have a long-distance marriage for a while, and Aditi has to neglect Ishaan to focus all her energies on the ailing Aisha. Niren gets a transfer to London where they thrive and Aisha grows to be a perky teenager. When it looks like she has recovered, they move back to Delhi — a swanky Chattarpur farmhouse — and then Aisha gets a lung disease as a result of the earlier treatment. Aditi and Niren do everything they can to prolong Aisha’s life, but also have to live with her death hovering over their home.
The non-linear structure is confusing and the excessive running time of the film could have been curtailed by excising bits that do not really convey much, like the sequence in which Niren has doubts about being the father of Ishaan.
It was brave of Priyanka and Farhan to play parents to teenagers — he acquires the gravity that comes with age and suffering, in her case, it is more about getting the ‘look’ right, rather than distilling the emotions. The two young actors are charming and carry off their scenes with conviction.
The film should have conveyed the anguish or courage, instead, it is a blend of sugary cute and maudlin… like the titular pink sky pained by a child.