From channelling his inner Rocky in ‘Knuckle City’ to exploring the meaning of identity in ‘Still Breathing’ to learning Hindi for ‘Bhai’s Café’, Siv Ngesi has been a busy man.
From channelling his inner Rocky in ‘Knuckle City’ to exploring the meaning of identity in ‘Still Breathing’ to learning Hindi for ‘Bhai’s Café’, Siv Ngesi has been a busy man.

Siv Ngesi gets out of his comfort zone with a TV series and two movies

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Jan 26, 2020

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Johannesburg - There are a few things that come

to mind when you hear Siv Ngesi’s

name. 

A comedian, MC and presenter

– with Man Cave and Wingin’ It a hit

with audiences – he’s also an actor.

In a nutshell, he is a master of

many trades. And he is a fearless voice

on social media, too. 

He pointed out: “Authenticity

is what I live by. There’s nothing

online that isn’t authentic. Too much

stuff is fake out there. I try to keep

to myself, I try to fight injustice as

much as possible and I try to be

truthful to what I believe in and what

my mother taught me. That’s what I

try every day. If that means the odd

debate, swear word and argument

here and there, bring it on.” 

Despite a very manic work

schedule and several other projects

in the pipeline, Ngesi took a break

to chat about his upcoming projects,

which have taken him out of his

comfort zone.

He said: “Still Breathing is a

star-studded, roller-coaster ride of

incredible emotions. It was really

incredible working with a calibre of

actors and actresses that I respect.” 

On the script, he added, “It’s

authentic characters dealing with

grief, happiness, family; just everyday

life. And I think that everyone who

is watching will relate to one of the

characters, if not all the characters.” 

This series, which is directed by

Johnny Barbuzano and created by his

co-producer wife, Tiffany, ticks many

boxes. It covers everything from love,

friendship, complicated relationships,

betrayal and long-kept secrets

between a circle of former friends,

who are reunited by a tragedy.

The cast includes Kate Liquorish,

Lorcia Khumalo, Shannon Esra, Ty

Keogh and Jane de Wet. 

Of his character, T-Boss, Ngesi

revealed: “It is a dream character for

me. He is a multi-layered onion of

a man, who is in a very interesting

space in his life. A father of two, a

husband and a doctor, he is also the

son of a domestic worker and what

comes with that is the question of

identity.” 

The TV series is releasing in

February along with his two movies, "Knuckle City" and "Bhai’s Café". Talk

about a happy coincidence.

In "Knuckle City", which was South

Africa’s official submission for Best

International Feature Film at this

year’s Oscars, he plays Goatee. 

Ngesi surprised many fans and

industry colleagues with his fluent

Xhosa in the movie, which has been

playing at various festivals.

He said: “I am fluent in Xhosa. I

am Xhosa. I’m from Gugulethu. Both

my parents are Xhosa. Many people

don’t know that, which blows my

mind. 

But I haven’t worked much

in Xhosa. I think that is why people

have not known that I am Xhosa.

But I have another TV show that I’m

working on that is Xhosa and it is

coming out shortly.” 

It wasn’t too difficult slipping into

character.

“I’ve been boxing for about 7 to

8 years now. When I heard that I’m

going to be in 'Knuckle City', well, I

have always wanted to do a boxing

movie. 

I’ve always wanted to train

for a film and have my Rocky Balboa

moment. When we were growing

up there was no such thing as Creed.

No one looked like us on TV, who

was boxing. We weren’t represented

in these films. So when I found out,

I started gyming even harder. My

character is an egotistical, in-your-face

boxer,” he shared. 

Getting to work with a director

like Jahmil XT Qubeka has been a

memorable experience for him.

He confirmed: “It’s the first

time I’m working with him but it’s

definitely not my last. He is a genius. 

Even at the Toronto International

Film Festival people were talking

about him as the next big thing in

the film industry, internationally. You

always know South Africans only click

when the world clicks about a South

African talent. I have a feeling he is

going to be bigger overseas than he is

in South Africa.” 

He laughed: “I wish every role

would take me out of my comfort

zone. I think the cool thing about the

three projects that are coming out is

that they really, really bring me out

of my comfort zone. I don’t think I’ve

ever had such eclectic work as I have

in the month coming up.” 

As for "Bhai’s Café", Ngesi said: “I

had to learn how to sing in Hindi

as I recorded a Hindi song. Initially,

they were going to get someone else

to record it and have me mouth

the words. I was like, ‘Not a flippin’

chance, I will learn it and I will do it’.

Give me a challenge and I will take

it on. And I had to go to Bollywood

dance lessons, which I did.” 

Although this movie is a rom-com,

Ngesi doesn’t get to flex his comedic

muscles.

He offered, “Everyone else does

funny. I am the serious one. My

character has a very pinnacle role. It’s

all about gentrification and how it’s

affecting everyone. It’s a conversation

that needs to be had.” 

By the end of next month, Ngesi’s

acting prowess should be the talk of

the town. 

Still Breathing airs on M-Net

(DStv channel 101) on Thursday,

February 27 at 8pm. Bhai’s Cafe opens

on the big screen on February 14 and

Knuckle City on February 28.

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