At a time when it’s raining hat-tricks, can Michelin-starred celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna be far behind? The trailer of “Buried Seeds”, a timeless story of passion, resilience, failure and rise as seen through Khanna’s eyes and which follows the journey of an immigrant past overwhelming obstacles in achieving his dreams, is to make its debut at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday.
Born with clubbed feet in a small town in India, Khanna is unable to walk like other children. He finds comfort and refuge in his grandmother’s kitchen where he becomes fascinated with food. At the majestic kitchens of the Golden Temple he finds his true passion and purpose. At 17, he starts a small shop and sells bread and food for kitty parties.
In 2000, he moves to the United States on a journey from a shelter for the homeless to becoming one of the most influential chefs and ambassadors of culture of our times.
The full-length docu-drama, directed by award-winning Russian filmmaker Andrei Severny, is, in Khanna’s words, “a celebration of a journey of an ordinary man”.
“A few years ago, Andrei approached me about making a film about my life’s journey from Amritsar to America. With his pure craft, visual art and compelling storytelling, he has created a masterpiece, ‘Buried Seeds’, inspired by a similarly titled upcoming book,” Khanna said in an email interview from New York as he prepared to leave for Cannes for the trailer launch.
“It’s 70 years of India’s independence… 70 years of freedom and coincidently its 70 years of Cannes as well. I am humbled and proud that Andrei is launching the trailer at such a historic moment,” Khanna added.
“Of course the film would travel around the world and at many film festivals to showcase the rich family heritage of India. We want more people to see the beauty, bonding and sacrifices made by an Indian family for the dream of a child,” he said.
How did Khanna’s association with Severny come about?
“I first met Andrei at a fundraiser that I was hosting in New York in 2006. I am a huge admirer of creative cinema and Andrei is truly one of most creative directors of our time. His work ‘Gravitation: Variation in Time and Space’, based on one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time — Diana Vishneva — has inspired me a lot. His sense of abstract and moving story-telling with creative forms has really moved me.
“When he approached me about a documentary on my life, I knew that he would be the best person to relate my journey and transformation,” Khanna explained.
At that time, author Karan Bellani was writing a book “Buried Seeds”, to be published by Wisdom Tree and working on the research. Many of the writings have inspired the scenes in the film.
“The film has a lot of narration, interviews, kaleidoscopic visuals of India and touches the core of human spirit — the perseverance, loss, pain and victory. It is a very personal journey that Andrei has captured,” Khanna explained.
The trailer launch will be Khanna’s third consecutive foray at Cannes.
“We were extremely humbled to launch my book ‘Utsav — A Culinary Epic of Indian Festivals’ at Cannes 2015. It was a benchmark for the festival to celebrate such a form of art and a milestone for cookbooks. Later, it was presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Queen Elizabeth II, then US President Barack Obama, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama, among others. Launching the book at Cannes truly helped it achieve such a status.
“In 2016, we premiered ‘Kitchens of Gratitude’, a short documentary that showcased the power of food and how it binds us. It was truly inspiring to be in the company of such great and legendary filmmakers from around the world,” Khanna said.
What of the future?
“I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to create art in a country which stood for art and culture. We are super excited to be working on a five-volume ‘Indian Cookery Encyclopaedia’ and a major book on ‘Blossoms of Spices’ and their evolution. Interestingly, I have also discovered the poet in me and I will soon be publishing my first book of poems from the heart of my kitchen, named ‘POEATRY’.
“In the immediate term, I am all set for the June publication of ‘My First Kitchen’ by Penguin-Random House. My show ‘Mega Kitchens’ on National Geographic will be premiering in June,” Khanna signed off.