Someone who has ‘experienced life through morsels of food’, Vikas Khanna believes that food can magically bind us together even in the most difficult times. The Michelin starred chef will share this powerful thought with the world today as he will present his documentary, Kitchens of Gratitude at the 69th Cannes Film Festival.
Feast of faith
The film is a captivating showcase of how food transcends all barriers of caste, creed, and faith. Its absorbing trailer has the chef taking you through various community kitchens. Be it the understated langar at the gurdwaras, the cheery feast during Ramzan or the simple fare at Buddhist monasteries, the film beautifully unfolds the underlying unity of all faiths through stimulating cinematography. The film also has religious leaders such as Dalai Lama and Mata Amritanandamayi talking about how food unites the entire humanity in one unbreakable bond.
We caught up with the chef before he left for France. Khanna was ecstatic that he was taking India’s most beautiful message to France — the oneness of humankind created through food. “The world admires India’s unity in diversity. Be it Parsis or Muslims, India is home for everyone. No one is an immigrant here. We may look different, but we are one. We may cook differently, but we make the same meal. I’ll share this with the most disturbed part of the world,” says the chef.
Food, the healer
It was the 2012 Wisconsin gurdwara tragedy that led the chef to look at food as the single biggest unifier of humanity ever. “Food can miraculously turn hatred into love. After the Wisconsin shooting, I got calls from a number of universities to talk about Sikhism and its message of universal harmony. From Columbia University to Princeton, the audience was completely hooked when I narrated the story of faith through food,” recalls Khanna, who also organised the first-ever langars at Harvard in 2012. The chef felt that it was important to share the message of harmony with a larger audience, and the idea of the film shaped up. As portrayed in his film, the chef believes that communal cooking goes a long way in promoting peace. “In the ancient times, people cooked in large public kitchens. As we evolved as a society, the large pots used for communal cooking reduced in size. But those big pots are the symbol of harmony. Nothing ever brought humanity so close like communal cooking,” says Khanna.
The chef intends showing his film to school children in India. “Our children must know that every faith welcomes everyone. No faith ever promotes discrimination. It is food that binds us together, and it must continue that way,” he says.
For all those who believe in universal humanism, this film will strengthen their faith in the supremacy of humanity over everything else. And if you haven’t thought like that so far, an introspection is inevitable after watching it.