15 years ago, Shonali Bose made Amu, based on her novel of the same name about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The film gained popularity and critical acclaim, but released in all of three theatres. Bose’s The Sky Is Pink about 18-year-old Aisha Chaudhary and her family’s ordeal through her illness made it to 800 theatres, and has been one of the most talked about films of the year.
“Trying to make and then release Amu was like pulling teeth without anaesthesia. So difficult and painful. Margarita With A Straw was less so, but still hard. To have a producer like Sid Roy Kapur behind Sky and not to worry about finding money; getting a proper release; to be able to just be a director– was like a zameen-aasmaan difference,” she tells us.
Bose’s stories come from deep-rooted realities of her life. In Margarita With A Straw in 2014, she told her own story of coming to terms with her sexuality as well as of a cousin who suffered from cerebral palsy. The Sky Is Pink resonates with Bose, who also lost her son. “There is nothing as fascinating or engaging to me personally than real life,” she says.
Putting out your own life on screen like that surely changes a person. Bose says the love she received has been enormous. “I have learnt how to turn real personal pain into an art that others can receive,” she says. The Sky Is Pink has received the same love she’s talking about. “Countless people have written me emails or met me and said their lives are changed or they have been healed,” she says. With her films going places, Bose stands out as a filmmaker who knows how to bring reality on screen in the most relatable way possible. And she isn’t afraid of what comes next. “Nothing is difficult or challenging now because of how I am with my age. Sublime. External factors are immaterial,” she adds.