Vikas Khanna’s ‘The Last Color’ Film Unites Two Unlikely Outcasts In A Story About Empowerment & Friendship

Based on the 2018 book of the same name, author, chef and filmmaker Vikas Khanna’s ‘The Last Color’ made its world premiere debut at the 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival, and opened in theaters in Los Angeles October 25.

If the name Vikas Khanna sounds familiar, you’d be right. He is an internationally-renowned Michelin Star chef whose creative talents clearly are not limited to the culinary arts. This is his first feature film as director and writer, bringing a beautiful story about empowerment, friendship and the resilience of the human spirit to the big screen.

A nine-year-old fearless tightrope walker and flower seller, Chhoti (Aqsa Siddiqui), savors her dream to save Rs. 300 ($ 4), so she can attend school. ‘The Last Color’ traces Chhoti and her best friend Chintu’s daily struggles for survival on the streets of the ancient city of Banaras, India. Chhoti befriends Noor (Neena Gupta), a 70 year-old white-clad widow who suffers a life of total abstinence and is disallowed from taking part in any festivities, especially Holi, the Indian festival of colors. Over time, Choti and Noor’s friendship and uplifting spiritual bond breaks through the barriers of the caste system.

Noor encourages the brave little girl to face life with courage, education, and dignity, while sharing her fondest childhood memory of playing with colors. Chhoti promises Noor that during this upcoming Holi, she will finally splash Noor with her favorite pink color. But on Holi’s eve, Noor passes away, and during a sweep, Chhoti is imprisoned by the corrupt police, led by the violent and bullying Raja. Will Chhoti be able to keep her promise?

Twenty-four years later, Chhoti becomes an advocate and fights for the societal reforms that will bring about rehabilitation of both street children and widows. ‘The Last Color’ is a story of promises kept, true friendships, and the freedom of the human spirit. It is also inspired by real events, as Alan Ng from points out.

“‘The Last Color’ is also a film of hope marking India’s shift in the way it treats its women, particularly the widows. In 2016, after years of litigation, India’s Supreme Court allowed widows to legally celebrate Holi without fear of retribution. Mind you, 2016 is not that long ago,” he writes.

There is so much heart and soul behind the making of this film, as Vikas told how true events inspired his story and his desire to shine a light on injustices faced by societal outcasts in India.

“Through this movie I wanted to convey a message that art has to be without borders and with imagination and soul. It has to reflect the urge and courage to tell the story, however small it might be,” he said.

After seeing how widows were treated in the city if Vrindavan during the Holi festival and how they finally had the courage to participate with the help of local NGO’s, it moved him to want to write about this. He also recalled seeing a young street girl being spat on by passing truck drivers, and being harassed by market vendors, and it made him angry that the child had accepted this behavior as normal.

He then realized he had an opportunity to use his celebrity status to tell a story in a way that can challenge societal attitudes toward the most vulnerable people.

As the film has just debuted in Los Angeles, we managed to get our hands on an exclusive clip to share with our readers, as more dates are added and the film makes its way to other cities and eventually on-demand and streaming platforms. The clip features a moving conversation between the two unlikely friends Noor and Chhoti.

Be sure to look out for ‘The Last Color’ in your local theaters, and check out Vikas Khanna’s book of the same name.

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