SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
"The Sky Is Pink" is a film that begins in gloom. A teenage girl has died. Her parents grieve as they go over artifacts of her life in her room. Then you hear the voice of that daughter, Aisha - her name means life - begin to tell her family's story. Yes, she says, she's dead, but quote, "get over it. It's quite cool actually. You'll see when you get here, which you do know you will, right?" "The Sky Is Pink" is a real-life story of love lived under loss and stress and the surviving devotion of Aisha's parents, Aditi and Niren, who acquire the nicknames Moose and Panda.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas stars in "The Sky Is Pink" and is one of its producers. She joins us from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.
PRIYANKA CHOPRA JONAS: Thank you for having me, Scott.
SIMON: And I gather this film began when the director made a promise to a dying teenager.
JONAS: Yeah. Actually, Aisha had seen my director, Shonali's, previous work and the trailer of her movie and expressed the desire to want to watch the movie. And she died two weeks later, so her parents approached Shonali and said that they'd want her to make a movie on Aisha's life. And because Shonali herself had lost her 16-year-old son, you know, this resonated so much to her about telling a story but also being extremely sensitive to the fragility of the emotions.
SIMON: Yeah. You got to know Aditi and Niren, I gather.
SIMON: I know they wanted the film to be made, but there must have been rough passages for them, weren't there?
JONAS: It was. It was hard on them because, I mean, this is - telling a story like this means you have to be so extremely vulnerable to such difficult times in your life. And that was really hard on them. I remember when there was a time Aditi didn't even want us to use their real names because she was like, I don't know, would it look like I'm exploiting my daughter and - or she said that, you know, she has a practice right now. She works with mental health patients and she was like, I don't know if I want people to know.
But then eventually when she, like, read this story and she saw the team that came together, she was just so proud of telling their story and her daughter's story that after the movie released, I remember, at TIFF, which is the Toronto Film Festival, she came up to me and gave me a hug and said that I feel like my daughter is reborn again today because the entire movie is from her perspective and in her voice, which was so lovely to see.
SIMON: For reasons I've been struggling to understand, almost my favorite moment in this film, "The Sky Is Pink" is when the mother and daughter take the blouse off a mannequin at H&M.
JONAS: (Laughter). Yeah, and you know that happened in real life. Every scene in this movie has been narrated to us verbatim by Aditi and Niren. And that happened where her daughter wanted a particular sweater, and they didn't have it in her size. And the only sweater that she wanted in her size was on a mannequin. And Aditi just kind of took it off of the mannequin and, like, (laughter) I just found that's so funny that it had to be a part of the movie.
SIMON: Well, there's a wonderful note of, you know, conspiratorial closeness between mother and daughter there that's just irreplaceable.
JONAS: It really is. My mother and I have that kind of relationship. I think when I hit my teenage years, we transition from being mother and daughter to friends. And my mom has always been not just my friend, but my confidant, someone I lean on for support, advice, but at the same time can have, like, trivial fun with.
And I find that relationship between parents and kids so amazing. I see so many parents who impose their dreams on their kids instead of, you know, giving them the wings to have their own dreams. And I think that's so important when it comes to parenting is to be able to give your kids the confidence to stand on their own feet because it's what's going to define them when they're adults. And my mom and dad definitely did that for me as Aisha's parents do for her in the movie.
SIMON: Yeah. I especially liked that - there's no way around it. This film is about the loss of a child, but it winds up being about the persistence of love in a marriage.
SIMON: What has kept Moose and Panda together and able to cherish each other? And I should explain, they also lost a child at birth.
JONAS: Yeah. Despite and in spite of losing two children, I think the one thing that they - that kept them together was that they were each other's friends, confidants. They had the ability and still do have the ability to talk about anything and get through it knowing that the other person is in their team. So whenever - Aditi especially, as you can see in the film, is very feisty and has, you know, her own opinions and is sort of, like the leader of the family. But she always knows that no matter what, Niren is going to be on her team and vice versa. And they have this crazy faith in each other, which is so inspiring to me. Even now, you know, when they walk into a room, they'll look across the room and each other like every couple of minutes because they're like, oh, this person's with me. They walk in hand-in-hand. It's so beautiful to see.
SIMON: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, she stars in and is one of the producers of the Hindi language film, "The Sky Is Pink" playing now in select theaters. Thanks so much for being with us.
JONAS: Thank you so much for having me, Scott. This was lovely. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.