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I’m not a very planned person in my life: Vikas Khanna

Subhash K . Jha



As  culinary wizard Vikas Khanna embarks on a  new  journey as a feature-film director with a  moving film on the  widows  of Varanasi, Subhash K Jha catches up with the chef d’oeuvre for  a war tete-a-tete.

What prompted you to turn a feature filmmaker and that too with a theme so hardhitting and far- reaching ?

I had written a very moving story in 2011 while shooting for my book UTSAV. The idea came from a Holi shoot inVrindavan temple, where lots of widows in white sarees stood outside in isolation of colors. I wrote a book calledColorless which was rejected by publishers in US and Europe. In 2012, when internet was flashed with images of widows playing Holi, that was a time my story of Noor came to life. The story was so compelling combined with girl empowerment and education. I had to make a modest movie.So here I  almost ready with my film The Last Color.

You have done documentaries in the past. In fact you wear many hats including that of global activist. What sort of impulses prompt you in life ?

I am not a very planned person in my life. I have worked all my life on instincts.At times I need to be aggressively challenged to do something. Any new project I research or do, I need to be emotionally connected to it. I have to do best to my ability, otherwise I find it hard to finish what  I start.

I find your journey from Punjab to NY hugely fascinating.Wouldn’t that make a great film?

I think my life is pretty boring. I work about 18 to 26 hours  a day. I think some of the opportunities I got were very interesting. Late Karan Bellani wrote a book on my journey  Buried Seeds, which was also made into a film by American-Russian filmmaker in 2017.

As a master chef you have brought great glory to our country ? Would you say cooking is your first love?

I did not do much, I think I had reached America at the time when Indian cooking was gaining momentum. There were and will be great ambassadors of Indian food in US. From Madhur Jaffrey to Suvir Saran, so so many brought glory to Indian cuisine. Cooking has always been my first love.I think it gave me a voice, a purpose and a reason to bring to the global audiences.

Speaking of love why do you remain so stubbornly single and with those matinee idol looks how do you resist all the female attention?

I have been devoted to developing my craft with a single focus mind. I hope that when I will feel I need to slow down, and Y will settle. Since I moved to the US in 2000, it’s been a whole new wars that I had to fight without changing my focus to my personal life.

I have always been fascinated by your journey in life . How do you look back on your life so far?

I have always looked at myself as a big failure and a luck success. Many times, I look back and feel that I should have not done this thing or not partnered with that one.But I know that they all helped me in some way or the other. I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with some of the very powerful people of my industry who encouraged me to move forward. I learnt one major lesson. Success or failure, just got  keep working,nurturing, creating.

Do you think Indians and India have made name in popular culture , say in the way you and Priyanka Chopra have?

Of course yes. There has always been a lot of pride in Indian achievements. It may be as corporate heads, innovations, authors, business ventures or in the arts. In the last decade there has been a great interest in India and thus the highlights. I was just fortunate that I had the unique opportunities from cooking for Presidents and world leaders. I was always trying serve as authentic Indian food as possible.  I think that vision of combining culture and food with confidence and faith helped me. Of course there was modernization in the cuisine, but not by losing the Indian soul. I think that is the challenge in the mainstream pop culture, retaining the balance while  moving ahead.

What do you say to those youngsters in India who look up to you as a role model ?and who are are the people who have inspired you the most?

In any field you choose, just keep reincarnating in it. Your passion and devotion will be your strength. Failure is just awesome, it prepares you for success. But instant success is very dangerous, it does not prepare you for failure. Even at the top, take risks, find things that excite you and tell stories that are meaningful beyond the pursuit of  wealth. I was always inspired by so many chefs, leaders and my family. From Phillips Petite to Richard Bach to SanjeevKapoor to Gordon Ramsay to Lataji Mangeshkarji. I can go on and on.

What are your target goals and dreams in the future?

I  wrote a book The Last Color and I created the screenplay for legendary actress Neena Gupta.The film is almost complete.I want to take this movie to the world. It’s a simple story of breaking taboos, girl empowerment, education and colors. My dream is to keep my promise with Neena ji and everyone who helped me create this film and  to take the movie to the world. I am trying to the best of my abilities. I have a great project on life of spices and the unique ways to cook with them. A great children’s book. And a lot of research being done on Northeast.

Ok everyone loves Vikas Khanna’s food but what are Vikas Khanna’s favourite food and cuisine and who is his favourite chef?

I love the cuisine of Bhutan, Assam and lots of regional cuisines. Of course trips to France and Spain would always excite me. My list of favorite chefs or food people is very long. Pushpesh Pant, Sanjeev Vermmaji, Vir Sanghvi,Rashmi Uday Singh, Manjeet Singh, Florence Fabricant, Arlyn Blake, Marryam Reshii.

Finally you share a deep connection with the Hindi film industry . whom there do you consider your friends ?

I think Hindi film industry has been very supportive and kind to my work for years. They proudly love Indian cuisine and it helps. Lata Mangeshkar ji. Anupam Kher ji. Karan Johar. Manish Malhotra. Rajkumar Rao,  Manish Mundra, Vicky Kaushal and Manoj Bajpai are some people I love and  respect in the Hindi film industry.

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Village Rockstars Movie Review: It Sells Indian Poverty To Festivals.  

Subhash K . Jha



Village Rockstars

Starring: Bhanita Das

Written and directed by Rima Das

Rating: ** 1/2(two and a half stars)

For long stretches nothing happens in this film about an impoverished little girl in Assam who dreams of owning her own guitar. I Inert silences are considered a huge asset in films that glorify the  Great Indian Poverty for a certain section of the Western audience which sees India and Indian cinema in two ways : either there  is too much singing and dancing or there is too little to eat and to hope for. Village Rockstars falls into the latter category . It fits in rather snugly with the western audiences’ perception of an impoverished India. A pre- pubescent girl Dhunu(Banita Das) wishes to own a guitar and form a musical band . It isn’t very clear where and howcDhunu’s yearnings sprouted into a veritable passion . Or how and why she wants to play rock music and own a rock band. The aspirational peg gives the debutant director a peg to pan her inquisitive camera across long stretches of  silently stirring paddy fields and shots of adolescents running across middle hinterlands. The film looks and feels like Satyajit Ray ‘s Pather Panchali  but it lacks the vision and lyricism of Ray ‘s exposition on rural poverty. Reema Das seems to use the theme of Indian Poverty as a peg for her aspirational story. The narrative even at a conservative 90 minutes, clocks up a heft of tedium . I couldn’t get myself involved in Dhunu’s story . It wasn’t her fault
She just couldn’t draw me into her yearnings. Village Rockstars has some quaint heartwarming passages among the village children who want to form a musical band . But by the time Rima Das threw in a flood sequence and a menstruation ritual I knew the director was in this for the long haul. More than her little protagonist’s yearning for  a guitar it is the director’s craving to take rural Assam’s destitution to a salivating western audiencd that propels this overrated film forward.

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Kubbra Sait to play Mamie Ahuja in ALTBalaji’s Nanavati VS State!

Subhash K . Jha



Riding high on the success of her popular web series, Sacred Games, Kubbra Sait will be seen pulling off yet another influential character in her forthcoming web series.
Produced by ALTBalaji and directed by Shashant Shah, the web series titled Nananvati VS State based on the Nanavati murder case will see Kubbra portraying Mamie Ahuja, a popular real-life character called Mamie Ahuja.
Kubbra who won huge appreciation for her character Cuckoo in Sacred Games and proved her acting prowess alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Saif Ali Khan has started shooting for the web series from this month (September) and will be extensively shooting for the show in November as well. The talented actress who is also hosting the first-ever series based on food and travel, ‘India On A Plate’ and was on the outlook of portraying challenging roles, was quite impressed by the subject of the web series and her character and immediately agreed to be part of the same.
Kubbra says, “I think people are well aware about the Nanavati murder case. The makers of the show have come up with a hard-hitting script and have approached me for an equally influential role to play. Since it’s my first period drama, I feel I am in a time machine but I’m glad to be sharing the screen space with stalwarts of acting.”

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  Nawazuddin : “I Regret Only Those 5 Pages Of My Memoirs”

Subhash K . Jha



Nawazuddin Siddiqui looks back on  the experience of writing his memoirs with some regret .

The  uproar caused by  the unflattering mention of two ladies with whom Nawazuddin was  allegedly involved, prompted Nawazuddin’s publishers  to withdraw his memoirs An Ordinary Life from the  book shelves.

Nawaz says he’s done with telling his story. “The entire motive  of  the  endeavour was turned  on  its head. I wanted  to put my story forward so that  others  from small towns with big dreams could follow in my footsteps. How was  I to know that 5 pages  of  the  book would  kill the  impact  of  my  entire effort? The  book had 209 pages. Only 5 of those pages were written about  over and over again.”

Nawaz  deeply regrets naming the women he  allegedly dated. “It was  not in good taste to  name the ladies. But I  didn’t know  any better. I was  only trying to tell the  truth.”

The actor par excellence  says he’s done  with telling his  story. “Now if I ever  write my memoirs, say  30-40 years from now, I will only tell lies in it.The truth is  not palatable to everybody.”

Nawaz  was also in  the  news earlier  this  year for allegedly  breaking into his  wife’s  Call Detail Record on her  phone.

In a rare moment of  candour he  finally opens up on the  issue. “It was never what  it was made out to be. There are  so many things  that are said and done to someone who becomes successful in life.I can’t explain any more . But all I’ll say is,my wife and I are very happy together.If that makes some people unhappy, what can I do?”

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