So I watched Keeping Up With The Kandasamys…
Before I begin this review, a moment of self-gratification and thanks needs to be enjoyed. I didn’t really think anyone – beyond my friends – was going to read this little blog of mine but recently I’ve been receiving invites to press screenings and even film premieres! It’s great to see something you created blossoming. Also have to say a word of thanks to Monica Steyn and the people over at Starburst Promotions for constantly thinking of me when these events come around. Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, let’s talk about this film…
Okay, basic plot: Jennifer Kandasamy (Jailoshini Naidoo) and Shanti Naidoo (Maeshni Naicker) are next door neighbours and fierce rivals living in the Chatsworth community in Durban. No one knows why the two women hate each other but everyone in the community (including their families) knows not to come in between the two. Unbeknownst to the two mothers, Prishen (Madhushan Singh) – Shanti’s son – is in a relationship with Jennifer’s daughter, Jody (Mishqah Parthiephal). The two mothers are outraged at the thought of their children dating and reluctantly form an alliance to break the two up. As they scheme on ways to divide the two budding lovers, Shanti and Jennifer unknowingly begin to build a friendship. As the two grow closer (and their children farther apart) old scars are opened up and the reason behind the feud between the two is finally revealed.
Every time I go to the cinema to watch a local film, I’m filled with more and more pride and optimism about South African cinema. The quality of the stories and the presentation of these stories is improving in leaps and bounds. Keeping Up With The Kandasamys is a prime example of this. The first point of praise for this film has to be towards its script which is truly wonderfully written by Jayan Moodley and Rory Booth. It’s funny, well-paced and, most importantly, authentic. It’s great to see South African films telling South African stories in a South African way. This film isn’t trying to emulate Hollywood or plagiarise the style of American films; it’s 100% local and told with the insight and perspective that only a South African could understand.
Jayan Moodley also directed this film and manages to construct a beautiful love letter to the community of Chatsworth. I’ve personally never seen this area of our country celebrated in film. We always hear about Soweto and Mitchell’s Plain and places like that so it was refreshing to be allowed insight into this community and the way its population interacts with one another.
Now this might sound like I’m describing a documentary about Chatsworth but Keeping Up With The Kandasamys is a feature film and an intensely funny one at that. Jailoshini Naidoo and Maeshni Naicker are at the heart of the majority of this film’s humour. The two perfectly portray the roles of feuding matriarchs and the clashes between their respective characters’ different styles is hilarious to watch. Naidoo and Naicker have fantastic chemistry and whether they’re at each other’s throats or secretly becoming friends, it’s fantastic to watch. In truth, the majority of this film’s cast put in entertaining turns in their respective roles.
I also really enjoyed the performances of Koobeshen Naidoo and Rajesh Gopie who star as Elvis and Preggie, respectively, the softspoken and submissive partners to the two meddling mothers. I also have to give special praise to Mariam Bassa who stars as Ayah – Jennifer’s straight-talking mother-in-law. There’s a moment in this film where Ayah eats something that she thinks is a sweet, that scene was absolute gold and had me in stitches.
Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the performance of every member in this film’s cast. Mishqah Parthiephal and Madhushan Singh who star as this film’s two lovers – Jody and Prishen – felt rather mismatched. There’s a lack of chemistry between the two and since their relationship is the spark that ignites this film’s plot, their awkward interactions threaten to demolish the whole purpose of the movie. Individually, I found Parthiephal more likeable but Singh’s performance felt stilted and lacking dynamism.
The film, while funny, is disappointingly unable to avoid being formulaic and predictable. The premise of meddling parents feels familiar, though I can’t tell you exactly where I’ve seen it before, and you can accurately predict exactly how the film’s plot is going to unfold. Luckily for this film, it’s funny enough and has enough entertaining performances to keep it from feeling stale.
Overall, Keeping Up With The Kandasamys is an extremely entertaining film. The two leads are wonderful and the filmmakers do a brilliant job showcasing the uniqueness of Chatsworth and its people. This film deserves seeing and is another GIANT step in the right direction for local cinema. 8/10