Before ‘The Sky Is Pink’, These Films Depicted Life of Caregivers

Films like October, Piku and Paa have previously dealt with the trials of being a caregiver. 

Updated
Bollywood
5 min read
Posters of films <i>October, Paa, Piku.</i>
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With her latest film, The Sky Is Pink, director Shonali Bose takes a deep dive into over three-decade journey of a real life couple, played by Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar on screen, who dedicated their lives to taking care of their daughter who was battling a rare fatal genetic disorder.

While we often get to watch stories of those who battled life-threatening diseases and difficult health conditions, very few Bollywood films actually delve into the challenges and the trauma faced by their caregivers. These films more often than not, manage to stir your soul as they explore the unconditional love and support offered by a loved one.

Here is how a few Bollywood films traversed the lives of those who take on the mantel to care for their loved ones and portrayed their journeys.

1. October

Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu in <i>October</i>.&nbsp;
Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu in October
(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)

The film follows the story of a lost and scattered Dan (Varun Dhawan), who finds a purpose in life after he starts taking care of his friend, who goes into coma after an accident.

October writer Juhi Chaturvedi (who has also written the Hindi dialogues of The Sky Is Pink), in an interview to mint.com, says, “You become a person who finds another person as a hook for yourself. You begin to slowly find an enjoyment in that life, that routine, in the idea of caring. It provides a focal point and, in Dan’s case, it becomes, perhaps, the purpose that he always lacked. Here he started finding himself.”

October, unlike any other Bollywood film, captures not just the sentimentality, but the mundane-ness of the hospital life as a family member or friend of a coma patient. Director Soojit Sircar portrays beautifully how monotonous life can get for caregivers, while also giving them a sense of purpose.

2. Piku

Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan in <i>Piku</i>.
Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan in Piku.
(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)

Piku, starring Deepika Padukone in the title role, is the story of an independent single woman caring for her ageing father. As in most cases, the life of caregivers revolves completely around the loved one they are caring for. Piku’s day too starts with checking on her father’s bowel movements as he has been dealing with constipation for a while and revolves around checking his blood pressure, sugar levels et al. Add to that the irritation that comes with dealing with an old man who is constantly cribbing.

Interestingly, the films on the life of caregivers seems to come from a personal space more often than not. Again Juhi, who wrote Piku, had been caring for her father at the time she wrote the script. Director Soojit Sircar’s mother had slipped into a coma for a few months, which made this film a lot more personal for him too. Interestingly, The Sky Is Pink, which revolves around the death of a young girl, director Shonali Bose had also lost her teenage son.

3. Paa

Amitabh Bachchan plays the son of Vidya Balan and Abhishek Bachchan in <i>Paa</i>.
Amitabh Bachchan plays the son of Vidya Balan and Abhishek Bachchan in Paa.
(Photo Courtesy: imdb)

R Balki’s Paa has a similarities to the treatment that Shonali Bose went for in The Sky Is Pink - looking at the human spirit and the joys of life in the face of tragedy. It depicted the life of a parent who cares unconditionally for the child, despite knowing that the child may not live long. Balki also resorts to humour and a certain lightness in the depiction of some of the darkest times in the life of a single mother (Vidya Balan), bringing up a child with a life-threatening condition. Vidya Balan and Abhishek Bachchan play parents to a 12-year-old Auro (Amitabh Bachchan), who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called progeria - a medical condition which leads to premature ageing of a child.

4. Margarita, With A Straw

Kalki Koechlin and Revathi in <i>Margarita, With A Straw</i>.
Kalki Koechlin and Revathi in Margarita, With A Straw.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube) 

While the film revolves around a teenager with cerebral palsy Laila exploring her sexuality, it also depicts her relationship with her mother, Shubhangi, played by Revathi. Shubhangi, not only has to care for her daughter physically and support her through college, but also come to terms with Laila’s sexuality.

Even though there is a simmering tension between the two through this phase, it surely is Laila’s strong bond with her mother that makes her a free spirit despite the confines of her wheelchair.

And when Laila falls in love with a fiercely independent girl, Khanum, the two fill in as each other’s caregivers too.

5. Guzaarish

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan in ‘Guzaarish’.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan in ‘Guzaarish’.
(Photo Courtesy: SLB Films)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s depiction of the relationship between a paralyzed man, Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan) and his caregiver and nurse Sofia (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), is perhaps the most fantastical one on this list. But it still manages to touch upon the emotion of how a person could get attached to someone at a deep level when they are taking care of them.

Unable to live in this vegetative condition, Ethan files a petition for euthanasia. When it gets rejected, Sofia, who has fallen in love with Ethan, decides to help him with his euthanasia, whatever the consequences, so she can put him out of his misery.

6. 15 Park Avenue

Konkona Sen Sharma, Shabana Azmi and Rahul Bose in ‘15 Park Avenue’.
Konkona Sen Sharma, Shabana Azmi and Rahul Bose in ‘15 Park Avenue’.

The story of this national award-winning English-language film revolves around Anjali (Shabana Azmi), who, along with an ageing mother (Waheeda Rehman), takes care of her younger sister Meethi (Konkona Sen Sharma), diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Director Aparna Sen deftly explores the challenges that come with taking care of a patient suffering from a grave mental illness and how it can eventually disrupt the mental peace of the family. She takes you to deep dark places with the compelling portrayal.

In what is one of the most heart wrenching scenes of the film, Shabana Azmi watches over as her sister as she has a whole conversation with her imaginary children.

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