“Sooraj toh roz hi jeet ta hai, chaand ka bhi toh din aata hai na!”
If you have ‘The Last Color’, you’d be knowing what I’m talking about. The Last Color is meant to be viewed with patience, with empathy, with love — it’s an amalgamation of the societal rules that ruined several lives, the beauty of Varanasi which seems to be lost in the modernization and the essence of ’90s with which my friends and I grew up!
“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,” celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna’s novel ‘The Last Color’ reads out — which has recently taken the shape of a motion picture, directed by the author himself.
The film starts in 2013 and gets a flashback of 24 years. We follow the troubled childhood of Supreme Court Advocate Noor Saxena aka Chhoti, who ensures the widows of Varanasi get a chance to celebrate Holi, too. Why must they be deprived of colours and beauty and companionship?
Growing up, Chhoti a homeless orphan, who earns money as a flower seller and a rope walker, is poorly treated by people and labelled as untouchable for belonging to a lower caste. A fighter and a survivor, the little girl strikes an unlikely friendship with a transgender, Anarkali and a widow, also called Noor. The outcasts find solace in each other until an evil local police officer starts harassing the trio for no logical reason.
But as we reach the climax, we find that little Chhoti grows up to become a successful lawyer who fights for transgenders’ and widows’ rights; however, she loses her beloved friends in her journey.
The Last Color intends to bring out the darker side of society. Although the film attempts to shed light upon too many issues — miserable lives of widows, casteism, domestic violence, transgenders’ misery, police corruption, etc., it did leave a message at the end.
And no matter how modern you call yourselves or how much you rate this attempt as just a movie, the fact is that others still oppress a major portion of society — especially if they are widows, transgenders, less educated or are from a low caste.
The Last Color is a reminder that the art of filmmaking is not just about making things big and grand, but it is also about making an impact. Though the film did not impress the audience, who happen to watch fancy college stories more than art films; a considerable fraction was really moved.
Neena Gupta really saved this movie by playing the character of Noor. She, portraying a widow, left an imprint and a question, “are all women getting equal rights; are they really living their dream?”
I personally liked this Vikas Khanna’s debut film because he chose to cast a transwoman for Anarkali’s role and did not think of taking any other actor wearing lehenga! Rudrani Chhetri’s impressive portrayal of Anarkali, a transwoman, is worth mentioning.
And Aqsa Siddiqui, as Chhoti, would remind of you of your childhood and the notoriety which gets lost on the street — a constant fear that people like us carry for these kids.
“I’m a trained chef, not a filmmaker. Yet people have said that the film moves very organically and nobody can take away the fact that it is so original,” Khanna said on his directorial debut. “People have showered their love on me ever since the movie has come. It moves people, and they feel it is their movie. Growing up, we always felt that movie making is magical. Now people see that if I can make a movie, anybody can make a movie.”
In August 2012, the Supreme Court had passed orders for the rehabilitation and empowerment of widows. After the historic decision, in March 2013, around 800 women had gathered together and celebrated the festival of colours for the first time in Vrindavan.