All about the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival 2019

AT TIFF, Indian women filmmakers tell three real stories

A still from The Sky Is Pink.  

With 36% of its entire slate of films directed by women, it’s no surprise to find TIFF showcasing works of three women filmmakers in its pick of four Indian films — Geetu Mohandas’ Moothon, Shonali Bose’s The Sky Is Pink and Gitanjali Rao’s Bombay Rose.

Ms. Bose’s film is based on the real story of Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Niren Chaudhary (Farhan Akhtar) and their daughter Aisha (Zaira Wasim), a patient of SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency), a genetic disorder in which one loses the ability to fight infections.

A note at the very start of the film talks about it having been made with an unprecedented support and access provided by the Chaudhary family itself. In retrospect, however, it seems to hem in the film. The documentary approach gets the better of the cinematic eye. In recording their lives and bringing to fore every possible detail of the Chaudharys’ remarkable struggle to help their daughter, even while keeping their own marriage going through tremendous stress and strain, the film tries to pack in a lot and ends up spreading itself too thin. The romance of the parents, their silly jealousies, little fights seem pointless diversions that make the film stray than keep it on course.

In the process, characters and relationships, situations and trajectories get too scattered, the truly poignant moments often get lost in the several banal and some discomfiting, outright manipulative ones. The back and forth narrative told through the perspective of the dead daughter has a whimsical potential that doesn’t get adequately realised. There are several broad issues covered — the many individual ways of dealing with grief and pain, a shared tragedy casting people adrift than bringing them together, a sibling getting neglected — but all of them remain implicit than leap out and grab you. Ms Chopra Jonas performs with earnestness, Mr. Akhtar looks curiously distanced, Ms. Wasim and Rohit Saraf as her elder brother are winsome.

While watching The Sky Is Pink, I was constantly reminded of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1975 film Mili, also about a family facing the loss of a beloved daughter. There was something candid and sincere in the way Mr. Mukherjee made you well up and reach out for the tissues; The Sky Is Pink feels too crafty and calculated for its own good.

(The writer is in Toronto at the invitation of TIFF)

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:05:16 AM |

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