The former executive chef of Michelin Star restaurant Junoon in New York City narrates his journey from Amritsar to Manhattan in this visually vibrant documentary
Vikas Khanna is front and center in one of the most unique documentary experiences with its excellent cinematography, thanks to the efforts of visionary director Andrei Severny. Khanna narrates his life from his upbringing in Amritsar as a boy with clubbed feet to his rise as one of the most coveted chefs in the world.
The standout aspect of the documentary is undoubtedly its vibrant cinematography and the mesmerizing narration by Vikas Khanna. By no means is it an action-packed nor fast-paced ‘edge of your’ seats narrative. It is a slow-burner that has a near hypnotic effect to the viewers with its soothing background score and the aforementioned visuals and sound design.
The challenge Khanna faced in his life is the recurring theme of the documentary. From his childhood as a young boy with a disability to a young man in New York struggling to find work, and financially becoming one of the most influential culinary experts in the world. Khanna gives an insight into how he was bullied at his school because of his disability.
His journey to New York wasn’t easy either. For Indian households, at the time Khanna was ready to explore the world, being a chef was not regarded as the most coveted profession. Once he crossed that hurdle, it was about perfecting what he knew through a professional course at a University and then moving to the US when his grasp of the English language was still unrefined. He goes to great lengths to describe how he was barely surviving working overtime.
The documentary also gives a brief insight into the US before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The event would shape US and global socio-politics for years to come. Khanna explains how New York City changed overnight as a result of the attack, but confesses that he still loves the city as it is a city made by immigrants from across the globe.
While the cinematic experience of the documentary is undeniable and narration by Khanna is exceptional, the documentary barely scratches the surface in terms of being an informative documentary. The two horrors Khanna had witnessed in his life, such as the 1984 riots and the 9/11 terror attacks, were mentioned only in passing without getting into more detail about the socio-political impact of these incidents in India and the US respectively.
The documentary should be applauded for its unique technical aspects such as the stunning visuals and sound design despite its minor shortcomings.