Movie review: The Sky is Pink has just a hint of too much purple

A few minutes in, a voice announces she is dead but promises that the film won't be a tear-jerker. The Sky is Pink makes it clear that it will entertain the audience even though at its heart it is about preparing for a loved one's impending death.

The task of light-heartedly narrating a serious story falls to Aisha Chaudhary (Zaira Wasim), speaking from the grave. Her parents, Aditi and Niren, played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar, respectively, have the tougher task of coping with her fragile and short life. For the movie to succeed, then, it has to make the audience laugh and cry at the same time. But The Sky is Pink neither quite moves us to tears nor has us splitting our sides with hilarity. 

Shonali Bose, who directed the critically acclaimed Margarita with a Straw (2015), based this film on a real story. As the end credits roll, photos and video footage of the actual Chaudharys are shown. The film appears to have retained the skeleton — the bare facts of the actual story — while fleshing it out with humour and tragedy.

The choice of the dead but chirpy narrator also implies that Chopra Jonas and Akhtar are the lead characters in the movie. It is their journey over three decades; from being lovers in college — a South Delhi girl who nearly became Miss India and a youth from a Chandni Chowk neighbourhood — to becoming a married couple with a son and determined to save money and raise a daughter.

The first half focuses on their struggle to protect Aisha, who is born with a rare, genetically inherited disease. The character of Wasim as an energetic teen who survived a confined childhood is introduced much later. Chopra Jonas and Akhtar get more screen time than Wasim (who shocked everyone with her decision to quit acting after this movie). 

Secret Superstar (2017) did. Aisha is aware that her days are numbered, but she prefers to not be sappy about it. She busies herself with painting and writing instead, and refuses her father's suggestion that she have a lung transplant that could extend her life by a decade. The movie is not without its heart-tugging moments. One exchange over the phone between Aisha and her elder brother Ishaan (Rohit Saraf), when she tells him she doesn't want to die and he replies that the rest of them would join her soon, is one such scene where both are effortless and convincing.

In their portrayals, Chopra Jonas and Akhtar are more persuasive as a young couple than as middle-aged parents of teens. Perhaps they are too glamorous for the latter roles. The supporting cast does not have well etched-out roles, so beyond attractive visuals a London or Old Delhi do not come alive. The background score swings between mawkish moodiness and jiving cheerfulness, not always in sync with a set of characters predestined to tragedy and suffering.

When Aditi realises that her daughter would not live long, she immediately gets down to ensuring Aisha enjoys her limited time. From bringing home a pet to persuading her reluctant son to team up and fix a date for the girl in school, Aditi's life revolves around Aisha while Niren makes it big as a head of a restaurant business. Yet, being unselfish is a guiding lesson for Aditi's character in the movie and its main takeaway.

In one flashback scene, the young couple is told by a doctor that their first-born, Tanya, is dying of an immune disorder (the same that struck Aisha later). Aditi is angry at Niren for ignoring symptoms till too late, storms out with the baby and finds an old woman seated before idols of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. When she demands of the stranger why Mother Mary doesn't feel her pain, the woman reminds Aditi that she feels the infant's pain too. The young mother learns to let go, like she has to decades later again.



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