Vikas Khanna: “I Think Scam Was A World Class Show”

Masterchef Vikas  Khanna who is now a feature-film director,  feels the  OTT platform in India is blooming. “When  I’m in-between projects I have time  to watch  movies.What I’ve seen  on the  OTT platform has really impressed me. Lots  of serials from India are so good.Recently I watched the series Scam 1992 . It is just brilliant.It’s a worldclass show. I’ve  been  a fan of  HansalMehta’s work  for years. Delhi Crime deserves every award. I was  so proud of  Scam and  Delhi Crime. People like Hansal  and Apurva Asrani  are putting Indian cinema  on an international  platform.”

Speaking  about his  beautiful  directorial debut  The Last Color  Vikas says, “I had written a short story  called Colorless in 2011  about a  widow in Vrindavan who yearns to  play  Holi. It was a dark intense  story based on my experiences in Vrindavan  while shooting for Holi. It stuck in my mind because had seen widows close to me. It really  moved me.”

   The  short story  became  a novel and then a film. “I wove  a novel around the characters  of the  widow  and  little girl who’s tightrope walker. After that everything began to fall in place .When the novel was released   in 2013 my publisher  suggested  I make  a film based  on  the novel.After that everything fell  into place.”

  Vikas is rightly  proud  of his  film. “Yes,  I am very proud of  the  film. Many thought I  was making a mistake. But I knew what  I was doing. There’s  a silent love story in  the background  . But I wanted to focus on the  relationship that grows between  the widow and the tightrope walker.”

Wasn’t it risky to turn a  director  at this stage of   your life? “Of course. But hey , look, what could be more courageous than me leaving everything behind in India to come to  America  to become a  chef.”

  Luckily for  Vikas  Neena Gupta said yes  to The  Last Color. “I got the  courage  to turn a  director when Neenaji(Gupta)  said yes.  It was a step-by-step process. Ilearnt  how to make a film on the job. I am proud of all the vulnerabilities  that went into the process.  It may not be  a great film/. But it resonated  across international film festivals because of its originality  and the message on how important  it is to  educate the  girl child.”

 Vikas says Neena Gupta was his your  first  choice. “Even when I was  writing  the novel I thought  of Neenaji in  the widow’s role.I liked her discipline   as an actor  imbibed  from her  experience in  theatre.Also she’s a director .She  had directed Saans.”

   Vikas   asked his friend  Anupam Kher to connect him with Neenaji. “Anupam  was kind enough to do so. Neenaji  is  everything I imagined her  to be. She  was shooting simultaneously for  Badhaai Ho. Who knew she would shoot into a second innings after that? But when I signed her  it was because I wanted  her only to play the widow.”

 Finding the little girl  to  play the tightrope walker was much tougher. “We auditioned  hundreds  of kids.I  zeroed on Aqsa Siddiqui. The  moment I  saw,  I saw my Choti in her. The same spirit and determination. Aqsa was also a topper in her class. This meant she listened  to her teachers  carefully.  I  was a first-time  director.I needed  actors who would  take  instructions well.”

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