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Will unblock the tear duct with its emotionally piercing real life story

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Film Review                                                 The Sky Is Pink

By SUNITA VIJAY

Either God gives pain to those who can endure it or while facing tribulation one gains the strength to face, fight and overpower the subjected hardships. The most tragic calamity in life is to face the death of one’s child. The enormous weight of the tragedy is much heavier than any other misery of the world. The acceptance of trying circumstances and then working towards overpowering the unfavourable situation is what Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink presents in the true story of a girl who suffered from a rare immune disease, SCID and later died at the age of 18 years.
Aisha Chaudhary (Zaira Wasim) posthumously narrates her tale in a lively tone. The story oscillates between the past and present moments. She calls her mother Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas)‘moose’, her father Niren Chaudhary (Farhan Akhtar) ‘Panda’, and brother Ishaan (Rohit Saraf) as ‘giraffe’ and makes us aware of all – right from her parent’s sex life to the death of her elder sister, the way her parents handled the humongous expenses of the treatment in London, the emotional turbulence in their lives due to her illness, the vulnerability and strengths of her family, the neglected elder sibling, her developing pulmonary fibrosis due to the ill-effects of the treatment and finally her death.
With her impeccable performance, Priyanka Chopra Jonas proves her mettle as a worried but brave mother who challenges all odds, fights boldly till the last straw, undertakes thorough research on the subject not missing even the minutes of probability that may support her child physically, mentally and clinically during the course of treatment. The loads of sacrifices and the tireless efforts to make the surroundings of her daughter germs-free, the unending hospital visits, maintaining her composure while coping with the on-and-off strenuous relationship and blame-fights with Niren that emerge as the by-product of incessant sufferings the family faced; all of it is piercing. The authenticity of the story gets corrupted at places when it suffers from over dramatization that shifts the actual grave reality of emotions towards built-up ones. In real life long stretches of exhausting mental experiences take a toll on one’s looks but the makeup artist doesn’t want the characters to look burnt-out. No amendments are made to reflect the subtlest of circumstantial changes in the looks and hair as the years roll, except for changing Priyanka’s hairstyle and making the moustaches of Farhan to disappear. If Priyanka emotes her pain immaculately, Farhan Akhtar displays his share of agony on his face with even more genuineness.
The Sky is Pink exhausts the tear glands and simultaneously makes one smile. As the uncontrollable tears roll down, the light moments provide calmness. A mother of a dying daughter works hard to make each day of her child beautiful. Her efforts to make Aisha experience all things in life become the sole motto of Aditi. Her role has a lot to teach and is echoed perfectly in terms of acting and expression by Priyanka. Her transformation in terms of style (but not age) from Chandni Chowk to London to Chattarpur farm house is obvious. She is frank with her daughter about her terminal illness. She takes care of all her expressed and unexpressed needs. The difference between a short life and a meaningful life is well defined. As a mother she does everything to ward off gloom from Aisha’s life. It’s interesting to watch her asking her son to arrange a date for Aisha with her school crush, a shopping mall experience to procure a particular sweater that Aisha likes, bringing a pup home to help Aisha distract the attention from her illness and the cheerful narration by Aisha of many sweet moments; all elevate the sanguinity.
Shonali has handled a similar emotional struggle before in Margarita with a Straw, the story of a girl with cerebral palsy and her bond with her mother. Similarly the mother-daughter relationship in The Sky is Pink is adorable. In one scene Aisha’s uncontrollable cough sends signals that her end is near but the mother feeds her a spoon of cough syrup, pats her back, hugs her and the child is at ease. The balming power in the motherly touch is felt strongly. These are the moments where Shonali never fails and Priyanka delivers.
The Sky is Pink is not about devoting all energies on mourning the death of Aisha, but a dent created in a mother’s life who has never learnt to live without her daughter, whose only aim in life is to speak to the best of doctors in the field on daily basis, to research on the illness and to make her child enjoy each moment. It is also about the father who handles the grief differently, is deeply attached to her daughter yet expresses it less. These are finer emotions that have been made to provide customised treatment by Shonali. It’s not about grieving over the child’s death only but how to handle the loss. Aditi mentions in pain after the death of Aisha what she is going to do with Aisha’s books, clothes, paintings, memories, bed, and many other things; it’s heart-ripping. The genuine hangover of the loss is strongly felt.
The Sky is Pink may create a lump in the throat with the authenticity in handling the scores of stirring emotions. Yet it nowhere overburdens with the excessive flow of grief. The balance between happy family moments, sweet communication and family holidays – all compensates for overbearing sentiments. The long duration is taxing. Weaknesses exist yet the superb acting by lead cast and fine direction makes up for it.