"The Sky Is Pink" | Sensitive but soppy
The statutory note first: Don’t forget a box of tissues. Sky, pink or white – take your pick in colour but the tissues are a must, more than cola and corn. The Sky Is Pink, Shonali Bose’s most commercial film yet, rides exaggerated sentimentalism aimed to keep your tearducts working overtime while the show is on.
With a star cast and budget bigger than Bose’s past efforts – Amu and Margarita With A Straw – all of the above would make perfect sense. You can’t possibly settle for anything less mainstream as a director with Priyanka Chopra starring in and co-producing your film. Bose’s Sky was always meant to be Pink with pop cinema formulae rather than emerge as an effort that explores finer aesthetics.
Still, within the gamut of Bollywood mainstream, The Sky Is Pink registers itself as one of the more sensitive attempts released this year. Much of that quality owes itself to an overwhelming true story on which screenplay is based.
The writer-director Bose and her co-scripters seem more interested in fashioning a functional, box-office compatible melodrama.
The story is narrated through the voice of Aisha Chaudhary (Zaira Wasim) who, we understand right at the start, is dead. Aisha’s narrative introduces us to her mother Aditi (Priyanka), who the girl lovingly calls Moose, and her father Niren (Farhan Akhtar), who is Panda to her. Aisha has an older brother Ishaan (Rohit Saraf), dubbed Giraffe for his lanky frame. We also learn Aditi and Niren had another daughter before Aisha, who passed away as a newborn.
The Sky Is Pink tries to capture the agony of a couple coping with the grave, incurable malady their daughter is afflicted with, which will draw her to inevitable doom. For Aditi and Niren, the trauma is all the more acute because they have already suffered loss of one child before. Yet, they keep their spirits buoyant and fights against all odds to face crisis coming Ayesha’s way.
There is a sense of inevitability about the story, given its theme. And if this is overall a tale of despair, Bose struggles to find ways to alter that mood. Stray, half-hearted attempts at humour flit past, as Aisha narrates the story.
Most of the film, however, uses flashback-driven storyline to generate schmaltz. Too much of overdone melodrama plays out over a runtime that seems too long at nearly two and half hours. The film scores on two counts, primarily. Despite being a maudlin shot at storytelling, it is never loses focus from what it intends to do to its target audience. The Sky Is Pink is credibly written and executed to that effect. The second aspect is the cast. The acting is overall impressive. Priyanka Chopra’s alpha mom act is far from perfect but, oscillating between vulnerable and resilient,
While on Farhan, he essays yet another trademark, understated performance. He seems more at home than Priyanka in imbibing the various phases of his protagonist’s character.
If The Sky Is Pink aimed at being a slightly different brand of mawkish melodrama, the film’s music team (Pritam’s tunes on Gulzar’s lyrics) is effective. For all its flaws, The Sky Is Pink works for the simple moral science lesson it leaves behind: Your loved ones matter most. Come to think of it, nothing regales the true-blue Bollywood buff than that sort of a message.