The Sky Is Pink is a rare compelling emotional drama that treats death like a fruitful learning experience
The Sky Is Pink hits home is not only because of its unique take on death but also since it is a rare family drama in a year full of action entertainers.
The last time my sky was pink was when Shakun Batra's family drama Kapoor & Sons released three years ago. It was a full-blown emotional drama, but also rooted in reality. While it evoked the same waterworks for me that producer Karan Johar's Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... did for families, it was far more contemporary in texture, and more real in its treatment.
This is exactly why Kapoor and Sons rung home. It was immediate, just like Shonali Bose's The Sky Is Pink, that releases today. The Sky Is Pink is a rare compelling emotional drama that made me feel the same way I did when I watched Kapoor & Sons. There were moments of sadness throughout the film but it also gave me the core strength to deal with the very issues it posed.
Kapoor & Sons was a suspense thriller in the guise of a family drama. No, really. There was an undercurrent of history and internal battles present throughout the narrative, which came to the fore as the film headed for its climax. On the other hand, since it is based on a true story, one knew exactly what is going to go down in The Sky Is Pink. It's predictable though immensely heartening. In a year where the highest grossers are a "romantic" drama, a buddy action entertainer, and an army film based on surgical strikes, a good ol' family drama was what one needed the most right now.
The Sky Is Pink is based on the life of Aisha Chaudhary, late author and motivational speaker, who passed away at 18 because of an immunity disorder. It revolves around how her family, particularly her parents Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Naren (Farhan Akhtar), took on the role of caretakers, how they dealt with her death, and how it ended up affecting their relationship.
In Shonali's last film Margarita With A Straw, Laila, the character of Kalki Koechlin, battled cerebral palsy. But her primary caretaker, her mom (Revathy) became the first one to die, owing to cancer. This made Laila undergo an epiphany. In the last shot of the film, she was seen with a glass of margarita (with a straw). Similarly, in Kapoor & Sons, when Rishi Kapoor's character of Dadu, a 90-year-old grandfather, is preparing to die (while living to the fullest in the moments), his son Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) becomes the first family member to die after an accident.
In both the films, death hits all family members like a truck (pun intended), which eventually brought them closer to both themselves and the remaining members of the family.
But in The Sky Is Pink, death is almost the fifth member of a family. It is a character whose presence looms large throughout the film. The entire family, as well as the audience, know who will die first, and that is how the film turns out. So there is no 'twist' in the narrative per say. Like Rishi's character in Kapoor & Sons, Zaira Wasim's character Aisha has already come to terms with death.
Since Aisha's condition is not 'normal', her parents invest a better part of their lives in making her life longer, or at least worth livable. But Zaira's lighthearted voiceover throughout the film makes the tone of the film less dark. She lends oodles of humour to the proceedings with her presence, both as a living person and the parallel voicover from beyond the grave.
Shonali delivers a masterstroke when, through Aisha's voicover at the start of the film, she gets done with death in the opening scene. Shonali's chosen approach in doing does not lend the film gravitas but never robs the story of its inherent gravity. By keeping the focus on Priyanka and Farhan's characters, she underlines that the emphasis of her story is on the life of the caretakers, more than death itself. The narrative spans through the initial years of their romantic relationship, when they are in their early 20s, to when they are trying to mend their broken relationship after the death of Aisha, when they are in their 50s.
A large part of the film deals with the struggle of not only keeping your child alive, but also how to keep the child within you alive after you have lost someone dear. Priyanka's character seems inspired from Shonali, who lost her child when she was almost the same age, to a rare skin disease. On the other hand, Farhan's character resonates more with Priyanka in real life. She confessed during the promotions of the film that she did not deal with her father Ashok Chopra's death properly. She jumped straight into work, and kept her busy 24*7 in order to divert her mind from the loss. However, undergoing the process of The Sky Is Pink was therapeutic for her since she finally managed to confront the death of a close one (though as Aditi).
And so, through Margarita With A Straw, Shonali highlighted the need to love yourself at all times, especially after the death of a loved one. Shakun Batra's Kapoor & Sons showed how a family member needs to be cherished, even more so because of the unpredictability of death. But The Sky Is Pink throws light on the importance of celebrating lives, not only yours but also of those who have departed.
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