I'm a trained chef, not a filmmaker: Vikas Khanna

Yoshita Singh

New York, Jan 7 (PTI) Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna says he is amazed that he made his directorial debut 'The Last Color' without any training in filmmaking.

Set in the ancient Indian city of Varanasi, the film follows a 70-year-old widow Noor, played by actor Neena Gupta, and her special bond with 9-year old Chhoti (Aqsa Siddiqui), a homeless girl who aspires to go to school and makes ends meet by performing stunts as a tight-rope walker and selling flowers.

'I'm a trained chef, not a filmmaker. Yet people have said that the film moves very organically and nobody can take away the fact that it is so original,' Khanna told PTI in an interview here.

Khanna said the movie is about 'pure love' and highlights a serious issue, the condition of widows in India.

'The film had a message of hope. Holi is a festival of spring, we took that away from them, we took away spring from the widows when they were not allowed to celebrate the festival of colours.' Without the resources of a production house, any experience in filmmaking and through self-finance, the popular restaurateur said he still managed to make the film.

'Everything has been organic. All this is very new for me. This is enough for me. There is a certain sacredness to what I was trying to create. I had a single vision to make the film,' he said.

Khanna said his life, struggles, failures and successes have been an open book for everyone to see.

'People have showered their love on me ever since the movie has come. It moves people and they feel it is their movie. Growing up we always felt that movie making is magical. Now people see that if I can make a movie, anybody can make a movie.' Khanna says he was elated to see his movie’s name in the list of the 344 feature films eligible for the Oscars.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had announced last month the list of 344 feature films in contention for the 2019 Best Picture Oscar.

Nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced on January 13. The list also includes Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra-starrer 'Photograph' and Anupam Kher and Dev Patel-starrer 'Hotel Mumbai', based on the 26/11 terror attacks.

As per the Academy, to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theatre, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission. The teaser for 'The Last Color' was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival last year and the film has gone to over 50 festivals and won more than 27 awards. Last year, it was screened at the United Nations Headquarters, highlighting the message of women empowerment, equality and dignity for all. PTI YAS RDS BK BK BK