It has been screened at various international film festivals and has won accolades. Michelin Star celebrity chef Vikas Khanna’s directorial debut The Last Colour (based on his book of the same name) finally makes way to his home country India. As the film releases on the big screen, in a tête-à-tête with Tribune Lifestyle, Vikas opens up about the film, his many projects, the juggle between success and failure and more…
n How does it feel to bring the Last Colour to the country of its origin?
The movie was supposed to come out on Holi but the pandemic happened, so think of my pain, the wait from Holi till now has been long. But I dedicated myself to Feed India, opened a restaurant, wrote three books, signed two really big projects and finished two documentaries. But my mind was still stuck on the movie, that I have not been able to do justice to it. Now, finally it’s among the initial films to open in cinemas and I can’t wait to see people’s response.
n Why have you chosen theatrical release over digital release in the times of Covid-19, especially when the latter is a safe bet?
There is no better time than now. Somebody has to jumpstart the economy and take the risk. Everybody was telling me to get it straight to OTT but I disagreed. I said it has to go to the cinema halls because when a movie goes through a theatrical release, it creates jobs. So many vendors get money, campaigns happen, agencies are hired, so hundreds of people get paid. I did not want to take the shortcut of going to the OTT and save money.
n What inspired you to write the book and then later turn it into a movie?
Varanasi is my hiding place. Whenever I am broken or down, ma Ganga holds me tight. After my father passed away, I was hiding there. I would walk around with my head and face covered, and there I met this young girl who rope-walked and she told me that she was saving money because she wanted to go to school. It touched me and right then I decided on her character and that’s when I started writing the book. Novel to screenplay to a movie, it has been a process of almost 11 years to bring it to you.
n A chef, judge on so many shows, a restaurateur, an author, a producer, a philanthropist and now a film director… how do you play so many roles and with such perfection? What’s your success mantra?
Sometimes even my folks ask me if there’s anything that I’ve not done. It is important for me to keep challenging myself and keep telling meaningful stories because I understand it’s very rare that you have a global voice that is resonated in America and back home. It could be a story of a widow who wants to play with colours or it could be the story of our langars.
n Do you fear failure?
The cross-borders work I do, it is totally hysterical but my mom keeps the entire equation right. Maybe the best thing is that she doesn’t live in America, so she doesn’t know what I do and how I survive such severe competition. Being the only person of brown skin in the fields of food, art, writing and publishing, sometimes it gets lonely and you are subjected to extreme criticism, too, but mom doesn’t know about any of it. She keeps me motivated and grounded at the same time.