By Rachit Raj
There is a beautiful scene in The Sky Is Pink when Ishan (Rohit Saraf) weeps after the death of his younger sibling Aisha (Zaira Wasim) while his father Niren (Farhan Akhtar) rests his head on Ishan’s lap, his silence slowly turning into a soft cry. It is a beautiful moment of two men sharing a cry when a fatal tragedy hits them. It is interesting to note that director Shonali Bose never gives us a similar scene of Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) breaking down. It speaks a lot about Aditi as a character, but also how representation of grief changes when a woman is on the director’s chair.
The women in The Sky Is Pink are stronger, brighter and far more potent in driving the narrative both in front and behind the camera. Bose takes the real life account of Aisha Chaudhary’s untimely death and turns it into a beautifully woven story of love, loss and life. Thankfully the film does not do that through the character of Aisha (something that has been done multiple times in Hindi movies) but through the relationship that her parents share through the highs and lows of seeing their daughter move silently towards her inevitable end.
At the core of its tragedy The Sky Is Pink is a beautiful love-story of a Chandni Chowk boy and a Chattarpur girl. It is a story of their shared experience of seeing hope turning into reality before the cruel hands of fate snatch that hope and crumble it into misery. Unlike Bose’s previous Margarita With A Straw that flourished in its subtlety, The Sky Is Pink does not shy away from becoming a riveting commercial family drama, never underplaying the emotions that the characters feel.
It is important, then, to have actors who understand the grammar of expression in commercial cinema. Farhan Akhtar’s return to big screen after a forgetful Lucknow Central is wonderful. His significance lies in realizing that the film belongs to Aditi and Aisha a lot more than Niren. Niren remains a supporting presence in a narrative that is as much about a mother-daughter relationship as Aditi’s relationship with Niren. Akhtar realizes where he stands in the movie and gives layers to Niren in that given space that help in making his romance and conflicts with Aditi convincing. As Aditi, Priyanka Chopra Jonas gives a timely reminder of why she will remain one of the most effortlessly good actors of our times. As the character who likes to take things in her control (often obsessively), Chopra is brilliant. She is especially brilliant (along with Akhtar) in a scene just before the interval that takes place in a women’s restroom.
The film finds its base in the chemistry these two powerhouses share with each other. Taking forward their on-screen relationship from Dil Dhadakne Do, Akhtar and Chopra give a depth to this couple in smaller moments that elevate the drama in the overall arc of the movie. It is also helped massively by a fantastic Zaira Wasim who dazzles even when she is not on-screen with her quirky voiceover. Much like her portrayal of a teenage character in Secret Superstar, Wasim successfully churns out the vulnerabilities and anxieties of a young mind with immense maturity here. Her performance, although consistently wonderful, is especially terrific in a scene involving a telephonic conversation with her brother.
Bose, retelling a real story, makes sure that the characters and relationships she is dealing with are not deprived of grey areas. The arguments between the couple feel real and lived. Aditi’s obsession to make Aisha’s last few years perfect is also hinted to be obsessive and not hailed as a part of the unquestionable parental love. It is also fascinating to see the movie explore the idea of different people finding different ways of moving on from a tragic event. This scrutiny of how each character expresses love and deals with grief makes this examination of human frailties more realistic even if the entire movie never steps away from being an out-and-out commercial movie.
The Sky Is Pink is a beautiful family drama that not only makes you embrace your loved ones but also tells you that death, like life, is just a part of how things are and not something that necessarily needs to be mourned. The movie takes some obvious cinematic liberties that make certain moments feel convenient than convincing, but some brilliant performances, Juhi Chaturvedi’s smart dialogues and Bose’s confident direction never make this an unworthy watch. Good family dramas are rare in our times, this one is one of those beautiful rarities that needs to be watched and accepted with its flaws, much like the way we accept life and people we love despite some faults.
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