Celebrity chef Vikas Khanna turns filmmaker with an adaptation of his new work of fiction

By Dhara Vora Sabhnani | Mumbai

Updated: May 10, 2018, 07:37 IST

Vikas Khanna’s latest book, inspired by the lives of the widows of Vrindavan, has now been adapted into a film

Vikas Khanna

Vikas Khanna does not just don a chef's hat. The author of 31 books and counting, Khanna turned filmmaker this year with an adaptation of his new work of fiction, The Last Color (Bloomsbury). Shot over 30 days with actor Neena Gupta in the lead, the film and the book tell the story of Noor, a widow who lives a life of abstinence and wishes to play Holi one day. The film is now in the post-production stage, and Khanna released the film's teaser and the book yesterday at Cannes Film Festival.

Excerpts from an email interview.

Vikas Khanna with Neena Gupta on set

What inspires you to write non-food books?
Authenticity of life and people and the infinite power of the human spirit drive me. The Last Color was such a compelling story. It has the spirit that also inspires my food. I hope I can balance both.

What led you to write this book?
The film is about female education and empowerment. I first wrote a short story in 2011 in Vrindavan, where I was researching for my book, Utsav. More than the Holi celebrations, I was drawn to the stories of some widows who were not part of the festivities. I had, at that time, imagined the day in my short story — a glorious day when their hope and faith will be filled with colours. In 2012, I woke up to stunning images on the Internet of these women playing Holi, filled with thousands of emotions. There were a million sentiments in them, especially the one in which an elderly woman was lying on a colour filled ground, laughing and crying at the same time. That's when I turned my short story into a novel. My visits to the ashrams of Vrindavan and Varanasi to understand the culture, the tradition, and to deliver what is right for the audience, helped me flesh it out.

Did you always plan to turn this book into a film?
Honestly, while writing the book, the idea of making a film out of it never occurred to me; I never had the time. Later, I realised how much the subject matters to me. During my continuous travels, I would meet women in Vrindavan and I was convinced that nobody would be closer to the story than I am. A lot of research went into it.

What's next?
New property: I am working on the research of Sacred Foods of India. There's a lot planned for later this year, including a big global project.
Next book: This title is slated to release in 2019. I will be returning to India to visit the temples of Kerala later this summer. Besides this, I have also done some gastronomic exploration on the flowers of spices inspired by Kerala.

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