Kogie Naidu (Amsugi) and Rani Pillay. Picture: Supplied
You can’t choose your family, but the one you marry into? That’s squarely your baby.

From the outset, it’s evident that the union of Mandoza (not the late Nkalakatha, but what a movie that would have been!) and Skye has all the characteristics of a problem child. They’re living in sin in Johannesburg, at least as far as their conservative families are concerned, and neither represent the ideal life partner in the eyes of their prospective in-laws.

So it’s perfectly understandable when Skye rejects Mandoza’s romantic proposal on the grounds that he has to meet her father first.

Wound tighter than a clockwork toy, Skye’s father Kallan expects a Christian husband for his daughter, but he isn’t even aware that she has a boyfriend. 

His first unfortunate run-ins with Mandoza, in which both are oblivious to the identity of the other, only serves to ratchet up the tension when the future son-in-law shows up asking for Skye’s hand in marriage.

Mandoza’s family, on the other hand, are a carousel of tantrums and meddling. The matriarch, his grandmother Amsugi, has worked Mandoza’s mother out of the family for not matching up to her expectations and hopes her beloved grandson will straighten out the kink in the family bloodline by marrying “a nice Tamil girl”. 

But Mandoza’s unwillingness to come clean at first leads to misunderstandings and a farce that explodes dramatically when he finally brings his intended home.

It’s a conundrum that is never really resolved. While Mandoza manages to win over Kallan with a heartfelt declaration of his love, Skye is on a hiding-to-nothing with Amsugi. She nearly gives the old lady a heart attack with the outfit she wears for their first meeting, and then causes her to have a real one with the kind of verbal sass for which concepts like “sounders” were invented.

Poor Amsugi: her fighting spirit, though legendary (as told in flashback) is no match for the march of time and the updated values of a younger generation. She won’t concede defeat, but that weak heart is under siege, especially since her nemesis, Mandoza’s mother, makes a grand entrance at the engagement party.

Part of a series of straight-to-DVD films that are legend in the Durban Indian community, the appeal of Broken Promises Forever will likely remain with that audience. 

Though the themes explored here are universal, and standard rom-com fare, the nuances in some of the comedy, as well as bits of the language, will only be fully appreciated by those in the know. 

Also, if you haven’t seen the films that came before, certain questions will pester you long after the final credits. Like, what is the broken promise exactly? And, why does the cute-and-quirky nosey neighbour have keys to Kallan’s house?