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 survival of a delicate friendship, is brilliantly told and poignantly life-affirming.
The Last Color is a debut fiction book which is soon to be released as a feature film, written by Michelin Star Chef & James Beard Award nominee Vikas Khanna & published by Bloomsbury India. He is the host of MasterChef India, Twist of Taste & Mega Kitchens on National Geographic. He is the creator of the Holy Kitchens documentary series & Kitchens of Gratitude which have been screened at The White House & several film festivals & universities around the world.
The story is set in Varanasi & revolves around Choti, a girl who was abandoned in garbage as a baby & saved by a woman in yellow saree. She grew up together with other orphans in the “Nameless House with Pink Walls” where all most of them begged on the streets wearing costumes & make up to resemble different gods. But Choti always wanted to fly & performed her tight rope routine while her friend Chintu gathered money from the crowd. As the story moves forward we meet two friends of Choti, Anarkali, a Hijra who also begs for survival & Noor a white saree clad widow who is forced to live a life devoid of any color. The antagonist of the story is Raja, a corrupt police inspector who gets sadistic pleasure in torturing all the beggars in his area & also extorted money from them. Then one night Choti witnessed her friend Anarkali being murdered by the police inspector & his henchmen. One thing leads to another and she gets beaten up & imprisoned on the eve of Holi for reporting the crime. Will she ever escape from the clutches of the evil inspector & bring justice to her friend, also would she be able to play Holi with her friend Noor as promised? Would she ever fly? Get the book here to immerse yourself into the City of the Dead & a story which will stay with you forever,
To start with, I’ll have to confess that I used to have a huge crush on the author & hence naturally I was quite excited to read this book. The blurb already intrigued me & the story didn’t let me down either. From the starting itself the story kept me with it & the pace was perfect too. The story has diverse, believable characters & it spoke about poverty but didn’t romanticize it and that’s what I loved about it, also it mentioned other social evils too. The language is easy, the title & especially the cover is to die for. A must read!