Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna, whose debut film as a director “The Last Color” was in contention for an Oscar nomination at the last Academy Awards, has taken a break from both culinary and filmmaking duties to turn focus on social service.
Khanna claims he is so busy these days organising a massive food distribution drive through a social media campaign that he has initiated that he has no time to even think about the release of his directorial debut.
Khanna’s drive, #FeedIndia, aims at providing meals and essential supplies to thousands of dabbawalas in Mumbai as well as widows in Vrindavan during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It started from a spam e-mail. On April 1, I saw an e-mail that said, ‘after lockdown in India, there are oldage homes and all they need is your attention’. I deleted that mail. But sometimes it happens that you board a wrong train but it leaves you at the right destination, and that’s what happened with me in this case,” he recalled.
Khanna continued: “It was a spam e-mail but the pictures in the e-mail, where old people were lying down without food, broke my heart because I have earlier worked with oldage homes and leprosy centres and I knew that they generally have storage of food. Then I tweeted about the issue to check whether it was true or not and after that, we got hundreds of e-mails. We didn’t know people paid attention to our tweets but I started getting messages from various places including Goa and Karnataka.”
The 48-year-old Amritsar-bred chef added that National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) helped him to execute his plans. Over the course of nearly 80 days, Khanna says he has distributed 14 million meals in orphanages, old-age homes, leprosy centres, widow ashrams as well as among migrant workers, across 125 Indian cities with the help of the organisation.
About releasing his film, Khanna said: “Honestly, I don’t have time to breath because of this whole situation. So, as of now I am not even thinking about the release of my film.”
“The Last Color” is a film about the age-old taboo surrounding widows in Vrindavan and Varanasi, who struggles daily for survival on the streets. The teaser of the film featuring Neena Gupta was released at the 71st Cannes Film Festival in May 2018.