Mumbai, Jan 19 (PTI) Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna, who is making his directorial debut with “The Last Color”, says he never planned his foray into films and it all happened organically.
The celebrated chef said he has no plans to pursue direction full-time.
“I am not changing gears, I am just adding something. It just came honestly. I had no aspirations to be a filmmaker. I am doing it for the love of art. If something moves I do it. I don’t know what will inspire me next,” Khanna, who has made documentaries in the past, told PTI.
The film “The Last Color”, based on a book of the same name by Khanna, revolves around the Supreme Court order against an age-old tradition of not allowing widows in Vrindavan to play Holi.
Khanna’s visit to Vrindavan in 2011 for his book ‘Utsav: A Culinary Epic of Indian Festivals’ gave birth to “The Last Color”, which now has turned into a film.
“In Vrindavan while I was just crossing by a lane I saw hundreds of widows standing on the balcony, who were dressed in white while the streets, the walls and other people were in colors. This is so stark. As a chef, everything in my life has been about colors.” He went back to New York to his normal life but the image of widows remained with him. The celebrity chef went crazy after looking at a story that appeared in 2013 in New York Times about widows playing Holi for the first time, following the orders of the Supreme Court.
At that time a bereaved Khanna was unable to recover from the demise of his father and decided to visit his favourite city, Varanasi to get a closure.
A chance encounter with a young girl, who he called Chhoti, a tightrope walker approached him for money so that she could go to school and become a lawyer eventually, gave birth to a story for his book.
The book follows the friendship between a young girl and a widow named Noor in Vrindavan.
The Michelin star recipient says, “Chotti gave me the inspiration for my story about women whose life is colourless.
“Over the course of time, the book titled ‘The Last Color’ took a shape. Lot of people then had advised me not to write a fiction novel and that I should rather concentrate on writing books on cooking.” On his publisher’s advice, Khanna decided to turn the book into a film. He also visited ashrams to do his research for the film.
“We started scouting for directors we did not find anyone who felt the pain and also sensitivity to color, so I came on board.” Khanna says he has dedicated this film to his father.
The film stars Neena Gupta in the lead and she was Khanna’s first and only choice. He approached her while the actor was shooting for “Badhaai Ho”.
For Khanna, to enter into the world of cinema and to be on the sets was akin to being in the kitchen.
“Making a film is exactly the same as running a kitchen. You should know the craft, understand the frame and emotion and it is like understanding the menu, where and how the food will be cooked.
“Like, how we decorate a restaurant and a dish similarly a film’s scene are decorated with story, performances, etc. The dish that is ready on the table is just like a shot captured onscreen.” Khanna, who has taken the Indian cuisine on a global platform with his high-end restaurant Junoon in New York, says, “There is lot of food in the film but we are not keeping it in the forefront. I have touched upon lot of things in this film like caste system, food, it is all inter-layered.” The film was recently premiered at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in California and it is likely to release in India this year.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.