Priyanka Chopra Jonas returns to Bollywood-style films in Shonali Bose’s epic family drama “The Sky Is Pink,” a biopic of teenage motivational speaker and author Aisha Chaudhary (portrayed by Zaira Wasim), who died of pulmonary fibrosis in 2015 at the age of 18.
While Bose’s film has the epic running time typical of a Bollywood film (it’s a hefty 2 hours, 20 minutes of intimate family story) and the tonal emotional roller coaster to boot — it does so minus Hindi cinema’s signature musical numbers. The film jumps back and forth over the course of 20 years, starting just after Aisha’s death, then rewinding to her conception, birth and childhood, narrated by the spunky teen herself from, yes, the afterlife.
It’s a quirky device that centers Aisha’s point of view. Fundamentally, this is a story about her parents, Aditi (Chopra Jonas) and Niren (Farhan Akhtar), navigating their relationship — a unique love marriage — through the challenges of raising a daughter born with the genetic immunodeficiency SCID, the same disease that claimed the life of their firstborn daughter. Chemotherapy at a young age causes the fibrosis that later takes her life, so Aisha and her family learn to get comfortable with death, and get the most out of life.
It’s a Bollywood version of an inspiring sick-teen drama like “The Fault in Our Stars” or “Five Feet Apart.” But Chopra Jonas and Akhtar have great chemistry, and though the nonlinear storytelling is somewhat unnecessary, Bose deftly manages the challenging tonal shifts within this lengthy film that never drags.
Running time: 2 hours, 21 minutes
Playing: Starts Oct. 11 in limited release