With a newborn who is crying hysterically in her arms, a distraught Priyanka Chopra settles down on a bench in a hospital. The kid won't survive for more than 24 hours; the doctor had dropped a shocker in the previous scene. As Priyanka tries to pacify her baby, the sequence that follows next leaves you with goosebumps. (Sorry, no spoilers here!) You feel the pain and heartbreak of the helpless mother and want to reach out to comfort her. That's where Shonali Bose's latest film, 'The Sky Is Pink' scores high.
The film begins in Aisha Chaudhary's (Zaira Wasim) perky voiceover where she reveals that she's dead. "Get over it. It's quite cool actually," she tells us before steering the topic towards her parent's sex life - Aditi Chaudhary (Priyanka Chopra) and Niren Chaudhary (Farhan Akhtar). She fondly calls them, her 'Moose' and 'Panda'.
In a non-linear style of story-telling, the narration jumps from one timeline to another revealing Aditi-Niren's love story, how Aisha was born with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) due to a faulty gene in her parents ('Baad mein google kar lena, Aisha cheekily tells us while disclosing the cause of her short lifespan). In a tragic turn of events, the Chaudharys had previously lost their firstborn Tanya to the same disorder. However, their son Ishaan (later played by Rohit Saraf) miraculously isn't affected by this life-threatening disease.
Determined to save Aisha's life, the middle-class couple travels to London where they try to raise funds for her treatment. At one point, their marriage even culminates into a long-distance relationship where Aditi and Aisha live in London for the latter's treatment whereas Niren and Ishaan return to their house in Delhi. After a successful bone marrow transplant, Aisha recovers fully and the Chaudharys return to India.
But as they say, all good things come to an end. Aisha develops pulmonary fibrosis as a side-effect of her chemotherapy, in her teenage years. Unfortunately, this time, her days are counted. Meanwhile, Niren and Aditi try every trick in the book to save their child from the clutches of death.
'The Sky Is Pink' is not just to be seen; instead, it's to be felt as well. One might think that a film which revolves around death and suffering would be grave. Shonali Bose and Co. defy this myth. Based on the real-life story of Aisha Chaudhary, the filmmaker takes several leaves from her story and weaves them into a string that consists of several heartwarming moments that make you smile, laugh and cry with the characters.
This Priyanka Chopra-Farhan Akhtar starrer is not just about Aisha's battle with a deadly disease. It also beautifully captures its aftermath and how one tries to cope with grief and loss in their own way. 'The Sky Is Pink' belongs to Aditi-Naren's love story as well. It talks about how love and courage keeps one going in tough times.
On the flip side, the non-linear storytelling distracts you a bit, especially in the first half. Just when you find yourself connecting to a situation, Shonali drops you into a different time-zone. It takes one a while to adjust to this narrative. Also, the fact that Priyanka continues to look her glam best even when she's struggling to deal with her child's deadly condition, leaves you a tad disappointed. The film also doesn't give you too many point of conflicts, which would have made the characters even more relatable.
Speaking about the performances, Priyanka Chopra tugs at your heartstrings as Aditi Chaudhary. Be it as a girl who boldly romances her lover with a helmet on her head, a cool mom who tries to fix a date for her daughter with her crush or as a mother who is ready to do anything just to bring a smile on her ailing daughter's face, the actress nails every shade and leaves you mighty impressed.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her is Farhan Akhtar as Naren Chaudhary. If Priyanka's Aditi wears every emotion on her sleeve, Farhan's Naren is a father who too has an emotional side, but is someone who lets his gestures do the talking instead.
Zaira Wasim brings in her own charm and spunk as Aisha Chaudhary. She's brilliant in the poignant scenes as well. Rohit Saraf lends solid support as Ishaan. His scene with Zaira where the latter confides that she doesn't want to die, leaves you with a lump in the throat.
Manas Mittal's editing could have been a little tauter. With a runtime of about 2 hours and 29 minutes, the film gets a little repetitive at places, when the pace dips a bit. Thankfully, it doesn't do any major damage. Kartik Vijay and Nick Cookie's camera work gels well with the tonality of the film.
Gulzar's lyrics in 'The Sky In Pink' fail to find a place on your lips after the movie. Pritam's music works fine but, it's nothing out-of-the-box.
In one of the poignant scenes in the film when a little Ishaan narrates to her mother on a phone call about getting scolded by his school teacher for colouring the sky pink, the latter quickly tells him, "If according to you, the colour of your sky is pink, so be it. That's your choice for your sky. Don't let anyone change it." After putting down the receiver, she breaks into tears in the phone booth. This simple scene teaches you a lot about life. It makes you realise that you have to be at your strongest when you are feeling at your weakest. I am going with 3.5 stars.