Bloomsbury India announces the international bestselling author Vikas Khanna’s fiction debut
THE LAST COLOR
The book along with the trailer of the motion picture adapted from the same starring Neena Gupta in the lead was released today at Cannes 2018.
Can the city of the dead also outlast the rest of extant civilization?
Can a vast number of its women in white really remember the meaning of color?
Can a foundling from a garbage dump pay homage to a corpse in the joyous pinks and reds of Holi?
Some say, those can only happen in Varanasi.
In an unlikely, if highly successful, departure from his profession of choice, Vikas Khanna relates the story of a rare relationship between a tightrope-walking beggar and a moksha-seeking widow that lives on beyond their derelict existences on the fringes of those of more fortunate beings. Pitting the smoke rising from the funeral pyres of Manikarnika Ghat, against the joyous color-bursts of Holi celebrations, this marvelously layered story of the survival of a delicate friendship, is brilliantly told and poignantly life-affirming.
‘I first saw the widows of Varanasi in 2009 when they were prohibited from playing Holi, and then later in 2012, when I saw the white widows drenched in the colors of Holi. The image haunted me; I could not forget the image sight of their joyous abandon. It was not about the color, it was about the transformation of society. It touched me so deeply that I wrote a book about them’ says Vikas Khanna.
‘The Last Color is a story of an unlikely friendship, of promises kept, of taboos broken and the victory of the human kind,’ he continues.
It’s Holi, 2012, the Hindu festival of spring, and back in Varanasi after twenty years, a young advocate is celebrating a nation-wide Supreme Court order against an age-old tradition of social injustice meted out to the destitute widows of India – to whom even the simple joys of color were denied.
It was in this city that, twenty years ago, Choti, a sassy, tight-rope walker befriends an old widow, Noor. As a member of the ashram, she lives a life of complete abstinence, but her young friend’s innocent exuberance and joy of life fills her with renewed hope. The two form an unlikely bond, with Noor looking out for Choti, inspiring her to ‘fly high’ by seeking an education and fighting for her rights with dignity. Choti listens enraptured by the memories her friend shares: of playing Holi dressed as Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna, and flinging great bursts of her favorite pink-colored gulal into the sky.
Choti promises her that they will play the next Holi together. But then, one night, another friend of Choti’s, Anarkali, is murdered by the heinous police chief and his goons. Being the only witness to her murder, Choti is imprisoned on the eve of Holi. Everything falls apart in the ensuing chaos.
Will Choti be able to keep her promise of playing Holi with Noor? Pitting the smoke rising from the funeral pyres of Manikarnika Ghat, against the joyous color bursts of Holi celebrations, Vikas Khanna’s marvellously layered story of the of a delicate friendship, is brilliantly told and poignantly life-affirming.
About the author: Vikas Khanna is a Michelin Star Chef and James Beard Award nominee. He is the host of MasterChef India, Twist of Taste and Mega Kitchens on National Geographic. He has also appeared on television with Gordon Ramsay, Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay. He is the creator of the Holy Kitchens documentary series and Kitchens of Gratitude which have been screened at The White House and several film festivals and universities around the world. The Last Color is his first work of fiction which he then went on to make into his first full-length feature film.