TIFF 2019 Movie Review: ‘The Sky Is Pink’

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‘The Sky Is Pink’ has always been more than just a movie. The film started with Aisha Chaudhary – a young motivational speaker who believed in living life to the fullest, despite her life-threatening illness. As it grew, the story became about her parents Niren and Aditi coping with their daughter’s unusual circumstance. But at the heart of the film is Shonali Bose’s own experience of dealing with death and the loss as a parent. For Bose, ‘The Sky Is Pink’ has always been personal.

‘The Sky is Pink’ follows Aisha’s (Zaira Wasim) life but contrary to popular belief, the film is not about her, but by her. Playfully referring to it as a sequel to her book, Aisha’s voice guides us through the ups and downs of the journey of her parents Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Niren (Farhan Akhtar) – the people who have made her life their own. The funny, sarcastic tone of a teenager ensures that the mood is never too heavy or serious as Aisha jumps around the timeline, switching between happy and sad memories, finding joy amongst sorrow.

It is a gut-wrenchingly emotional story without ever being overdramatic. As witnessed in her previous work as well, Bose treats her characters with respect and empathy, which is why she never dwells on or exploits their vulnerable, weak moments of suffering for melodrama. Instead, the film focuses on love, celebrating the moments of happiness the characters try to create for each other, both big and small. Bose shows an accurate depiction of grief as it is experienced in real life – a deeply suppressed monster that only comes out in glimpses. As a result, we only see sorrow in short intervals, sneaking out through an expression, a pause and occasionally a tear.

The film doesn’t ever show you how to feel, but feels everything with you thanks to the brilliant performances. Priyanka Chopra Jonas reminds us why she’s one of the best in Bollywood with the most honest performance she has ever given. ‘The Sky Is Pink’ features the pure, simple actress that has been sorely missed, unaffected by her superstardom or international fame.

Farhan Akhtar is similarly on top of his game as the heartbroken father. The true hero, however, is Chopra and Akhtar’s ability to work so well together, communicating through expressions, emphasizing how the other feels in a scene.

Zaira Wasim, who is usually seen playing extraordinary young women, gets to be a normal teenager in ‘The Sky Is Pink’. Aisha as a character is never put on a pedestal as a beacon of hope with an incurable illness. She’s just a smart, talented teenager who happens to be sick, and Wasim beautifully highlights how these characteristics are what make Aisha so special.

Rohit Saraf as Ishaan wonderfully serves as the anchor to each character. Keeping up with such a strong cast is not an easy feat for a newcomer, but Saraf manages to complete the puzzle seamlessly.

‘The Sky Is Pink’ shines because of Bose’s uncanny ability of putting her heart into her films. Her biggest film yet may also be the closest to her, and it shows in every frame. The story takes Aisha’s idea of celebrating life in the face of death and interprets it through grieving parents like the Chaudharys or Bose herself. Based on the Chaudhary family, ‘The Sky Is Pink’ is tinted with Bose’s life experience and worldview, making this story as much hers as it is theirs.

The world premiere of ‘The Sky Is Pink’ will be held on 13th September as a part of the Gala Presentations at TIFF 2019.

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