Express news service
Shonali Bose’s new film The Sky Is Pink centers on the life of Aisha Chaudhary, a young writer and speaker who died at the age of 18 from pulmonary fibrosis. As a teenager, Aisha gave inspirational speeches and wrote the book My Little Epiphanies, launched a day before her death in 2015. The film follows 25 years in the life of Aisha’s parents – Niren and Aditi Chaudhary – as they get together. fight against their daughter’s condition while raising their son Ishaan.
The story, in part, is driven by Shonali’s own grief when she lost her teenage son in a freak accident in 2010. In this interview, the director talks about her film’s curious title, cultural interpretations of the healing. , working with Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar, and directing her first major “studio film”.
What was the starting point of The Sky Is Pink?
Aditi Chaudhary contacted me after Aisha’s death. She wanted me to make a film about her daughter. Initially, we interacted via Skype. Later, I interviewed Aditi and Niren personally for two weeks. They spoke, cried, and healed through the process of these stories. I think Indian culture is better equipped to deal with loss. In our families, everyone comes together and gives support. Aunts and uncles become our parents. This will never happen in Western culture as it is.
How did you land on the title?
It comes from an incident in the life of the Chaudhary. While in London – sometime after Aisha’s bone marrow transplant – Aditi was talking to her son Ishaan on the phone. He was only four years old at the time. He told her that he was punished in class for painting the sky pink. The teacher told him the sky was supposed to be blue. Hearing this, Aditi broke down on the phone. I was deeply touched by this story. He metaphorically captured the spirit of our film – the idea that you can paint your sky any color you want.
WATCH | Priyanka Chopra’s interview: “The Sky is Pink deals with heavy subjects but is so light”
What did you find most unique about Aisha?
I hate when people refer to her as a âmotivational speakerâ. They see her as that fearless girl who kissed death with a smile. But what I liked about Aisha is that she is much more human. She even wrote at one point that death is horrible and wasted and that she doesn’t want to die. I didn’t want to put her on a pedestal. I wanted to portray her as the sassy, ââhumorous teenager that she was.
Priyanka and Farhan are the best actors in Bollywood. Are they wholeheartedly committed to your vision?
As a director, I need to do workshops with my actors. I can’t get them to come right onto the set. Fortunately Priyanka loved working with me and had the energy to rehearse and prepare for the role.
Same thing with Farhan. I did intense character work with him. I didn’t want him to imitate Niren Chaudhary but to internalize his journey, playing the character in his own way. Farhan, as the director himself, has integrated the process wonderfully.
Your previous films – Amu and Margarita, with a Straw – were independent works. Was it difficult to run a studio production?
It always depends on your producers. Ronnie Screwvala and Sidharth Roy Kapur were both on the same page with me. Several times I would panic and call them and they were always available to help me. The technical assistant on this film was top notch. So in a way it was the easiest movie I have ever made.