Buried Seeds, a docu on chef Vikas Khanna, finally released on Independence Day
After one of the longest journeys on festival circuits for an Indian film; Buried Seeds, a documentary on the life of Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna finally released on Independence Day
The first feeling that crosses your mind when you watch Buried Seeds is an overpowering sense of awe — awe at the inspiring life, journey and heart-touching real life story of chef Vikas Khanna. Born with a deformity that led to a disability and faced with several obstacles throughout life — this story of a young shy boy from Amritsar who overcame all these odds and won over the hearts of the biggest names in the world of food, will stay with you long after its 75-minute run.
We caught up with the chef and the director of the film, Andrei Severny, for a quick chat over a Zoom call to find out more about the film that finally released on National Geographic recently after a four-year long festival journey and 30+ awards.
The film was released officially on September 6, 2017 at the Venice Film Festival and has toured many festivals including Cannes. “The film resonated with so many people around the world, it just kept going from one festival to another and by the end of it we had a whole bunch of awards, the last being in November 2019, right before the pandemic. So, we’re really excited that it finally premiered and on a network like National Geographic,” gushes Andrei, who incidentally made his debut as a director with this film.
The film is a beautiful, moving narrative that follows the life of the chef from his childhood in Amritsar, to his culinary education in Manipal, to his story of success in New York. “The film almost feels like a child visiting home. I am so happy that it was released on Independence Day because freedom has played such an important role in my life,” shares Vikas nostalgically.
The film delicately meanders through the real life story of Vikas who was born in Amritsar with clubfoot and lived an isolated childhood, in which he was often bullied because of his disability. This isolation led him to take refuge in his mother’s domain, the kitchen, and led to his eventual love for all things food. The film follows his life through his initial rejection at a culinary school and culminates in his eventual success in New York earning a Michelin star for Indian cuisine. Some of the scenes in the movie visit the darkest parts of Vikas’ life, including being locked inside a restaurant freezer by a jealous chef who was also a bully.
“We don’t value freedom unless it’s taken away from us. We become so complacent about freedom. That fight for freedom for me was very important and that’s why this date being chosen for the release seems perfect. If it was not for those harrowing experiences (and one has to remember that restaurant kitchens are very rough places, they’re almost like prisons), I might not have become who I am today. Thanks to social media and people talking about the brutality of established chefs and talking about equality, wages, discipline, hierarchy and respect in the kitchen — we’re finally at a better place as an industry,” shares the chef. “I had to open up about my vulnerabilities and talk about them for the first time in this process. I had to warn my mother. My father knew about these struggles, but my mother didn’t. And I was sure, she would break down and force me to come back home,” he adds.
With moments of joy overpowering the moments of struggle in this tale, however, director Andrei must be credited for a clever use of cinematic tools to narrate this complex, gritty and compelling tale powered by motivation and self-belief. “The depth and multiple layers in Vikas’ story was something that only cinema could do justice to. Everything was based on an interview we had with him and then we shot, and then we did another interview and we shot again, and this was the foundation on which we built all these layers,” explains Andrei.
Catch Buried Seeds on National Geographic.