The Sky Is Pink is based on the true story of Niren and Aditi Chaudhary’s family. It’s rare for Bollywood to pick a true story and not Bollywoodise it with needless and soppy melodrama, but watching this film would make you think that this is probably because Bollywood can’t do anything else.
The film is non-linear and flits between a bunch of different time periods in the lives of Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Niren (Farhan “Headbob” Akhtar; more on that later). The motivation behind this kind of structuring is seemingly to show the couples’ decisions in hindsight after their daughter, Aisha (Zaira Wasim), has already passed away. The film also uses the posthumous narrator device with Aisha’s voice-over punctuating the story with quirk and humour.
With all of this, one would expect a touching slice-of-life drama that shows each decision an individual makes as crucial in the lives of many others and impresses upon you the consequences of these decisions. But The Sky Is Pink doesn’t offer any of that, despite its feeble attempts. There is virtually no depth to either of the two main characters (Aditi and Niren). Show-don’t-tell is completely discarded and two and a half hours later, there’s nothing you’ve actually felt about these characters. You’ve only been told things through dialogue.
Bizarre character traits that have no basis in what has previously been shown are conveyed to the viewer through accusations the characters make against each other. There is not a single scene that doesn’t start with an excessively expository dialogue summing up events not shown to us like an incident report would. In what is supposed to be a tearjerker, you might feel that you’re reading a Bal Bharati story for first-standard students in which mundane actions of a character are narrated to teach kids sentence construction.
The Sky Is Pink is also another in the long series of Bollywood films where the dialogue-writing credit should’ve been given to Google Translate. It is fairly obvious that the Chaudhary family—which lived in the UK for over a decade—largely spoke to each other in English. It’s also apparent that the dialogue was written in English and then translated haphazardly without any thought to idioms and colloquialisms. Lines like “tum ek din mein ek hee baat socho” (almost certainly translated from “let’s take it one day at a time”) stick out like sore thumbs with festering boils on them. A compulsive need to have sentences in pure Hindi is seen when words that people of the Chaudharys’ socio-economic stature would virtually never use, like “istemaal”, pop up, making it hard not to roll your eyes.
Also in true Bollywood fashion, characters seem virtually ageless until the moment they hit some imaginary “old-person” benchmark. In one scene, Aditi—supposedly 48 years old at the time—is wearing a swimsuit and has jet black hair and the toned body of a supermodel in her thirties. In another scene, set just two years after this one, she’s greying and finally looking her age. Niren’s peers end up looking like proverbial uncles at 50, while he still has a lean and toned body of a Bollywood star with sexy salt-and-pepper hair which tilts largely towards pepper.
With cardboard cutout characters and atrocious dialogue, the actors are strapped with a tough task. Zaira Wasim and Priyanka Chopra make the best of it and make the lines seem like their own. Wasim, especially, is natural and effortless in her dialogue delivery and body language. Farhan Akhtar, however, manages to be the worst thing about an already lame film with his trademark headbob that emphasises every syllable, almost as if he’s doing pantomime. Coming from a family of poets but himself growing up English-medium, Akhtar never seems to have learned to speak Hindi like normal people and always seems like he’s in an elocution contest, enunciating each word for some needless effect.
The message of the film—something to do with abortion, life, and morality—is lost under a pile of really mediocre filmmaking that will make you think that rather than good stories elevating Bollywood films, Bollywood brings them down. Other than the fact that Farhan Akhtar really needs to quit acting, there is no other takeaway from The Sky Is Pink.