A late summer night's dream, in a villa on the Venice Lido: a star chef of Indian cuisine in the kitchen, and a film that tells his story. A new documentary gets a special evening screening on September 6 at the Villa degli Autori: Buried Seeds
by Andrei Severny
Who could ever forget the Indian boy who played the lead in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire? Vikas Khanna's story is similar: a poor child who courtesy of a strange series of circumstances winds up on television and becomes famous. In this case, the boy who makes good is a talented chef, and not just any chef, mind, but a chef with a Michelin star, and himself a star of MasterChef India and Australia. Vikas Khanna landed in New York with nothing but a love of cooking; he would go on to become the chef of an exclusive restaurant in Manhattan, and by now he has cooked for Barak Obama, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. Severny has put his story on film.
The Giornate pay homage to the seventieth anniversary of Indian independence (celebrated on August 15) with a themed evening event. The ingredients have been vetted by Vikas and Andrei Severny, the Russian-American director and visual artist whose 2011 film Condition premiered at the Torino Film Festival. Severny has written several articles about the future of cinema published by the Tribeca Film Festival, while the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle has named Khanna one of the top ten chefs who have revolutionized our eating habits.
The raw material of this new film is passion - the passion that drives us to test our limits and transcend them. The documentary is the account of an extraordinary existence that began in poverty, in a city in northern India, and shifted to New York, where Khanna arrived just short of thirty years old. After 9/11, he served free food, and he also fed the homeless near his restaurant for free - the restaurant where it all began. The metaphor in the title of the film, about seeds, is memorable: when seeds are sown, or buried, they shrivel up, as if they need to necessarily suffer before they germinate.
"The man and star portrayed by Severny in Buried Seeds," says Giorgio Gosetti, "represents the essence of Indian culture, and the best: the cinema that reaches us from that culture; the dreams that are made to be lived in reality; and the quality of the food, a seed, in its simplicity; an art, in its sophistication.