Feature film ‘The Cane Cutter’ to hit the big screen in November

Director and writer Dr Eubulus Timothy with Dr Kajal Lutchminarain and Shika Maharaj, the leading ladies in The Cane Cutter, scheduled for release later this year. | Supplied

Director and writer Dr Eubulus Timothy with Dr Kajal Lutchminarain and Shika Maharaj, the leading ladies in The Cane Cutter, scheduled for release later this year. | Supplied

Published Jun 1, 2024


Durban — If all goes to plan, The Cane Cutter feature film will light up the big screen in six months.

The movie’s head honchos have their sights set on November 16, marking the day on which Indian labourers arrived in South Africa 164 years ago.

The labourers’ subsequent travails, tragedies and the painstaking journey to triumph for some is at the heart of this film, all ensconced in a compelling love story.

The movie is produced by Shan Moodley and directed by Dr Eubulus Timothy, both luminaries of the local movie-making industry.

The film is in post-production, where the nuanced tinkering with lights, sound and picture quality is handled before the “digital cinema package” of The Cane Cutter becomes available for showing at cinemas.

“I think what we have is very good. I’m satisfied and waiting for November,” was Timothy’s verdict.

Timothy, a qualified dental surgeon, who also holds marketing and journalism qualifications, is a recipient of numerous movie-making awards, including the prestigious Harley-Merrill Screenwriting gong in Hollywood.

Multi-award winning writer and director Eubulus Timothy gets things rolling on the feature film “The Cane Cutter”. Picture: Supplied

The Cane Cutter project first emerged nearly 10 years ago when Moodley shared his idea and notes for a movie with Timothy, who had just returned from seven years of working in Los Angeles, and gave him permission to “run with it”.

“I took the story he wanted to tell and transformed it into the screenplay we now have.

“Much of what is depicted in the movie is something that happened to me personally, friends or people known to me.”

He said it was a sad movie that told a story about Indians as a tribe in South Africa, which had required much research and input from knowledgeable individuals.

“Lots of our history is not understood. We are descendants of colonialism. It’s a history we should not be ashamed of.

“The movie deals with the trauma we endure as a tribe.”

Timothy believed there would be few dry eyes at the end of the movie, which has a running time of more than 90 minutes.

Filming began in May last year and lasted two weeks, due mainly to its “minuscule budget”. Apart from a scene in New York’s Central Park, much of the action was captured in Durban.

The movie has scaled various post-production hoops and challenges.

In January, production moved to doing “pick-ups”, in which some scenes were redone.

It gave the production crew the opportunity to interview individuals like Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Professor Karthy Govender, Sam Ramsamy, Devi Rajab, Ismail Mohammed and Ela Gandhi, who have all made their mark in various facets of life in South Africa.

Timothy said the interviews were fused into the movie for effect and to enhance the storyline before “locking the picture”. Locking means the final footage would be ready for music and sound editing and picture grading, all of which can be done simultaneously.

He said tampering with a movie after it was locked affected its synchronisation.

They used “Durban-styled” sounds for the music.

“It gives exposure to local talent.”

Timothy said there were challenges in reaching this point, but they were not out of the ordinary and they appreciated the individuals and business that “took chances” and supported the movie’s production.

Dr Kajal Lutchminarain, playing Amisha, with co-star Razeen Dada (Devashan) in a scene from the movie. | Supplied

Durban plastic surgeon Dr Kajal Lutchminarain plays leading lady Amisha, marketing executive Shika Maharaj (Priya) plays a supporting role, and Razeen Dada has been cast as the leading man.

For Dada, who has appeared in Netflix and Showmax productions, it will be his first appearance in a feature movie.

Preparation was key for Dada, who worked with an acting coach for fine-tuning and preparing for tango dancing in a scene.

Dada said Timothy was aware of his performance in a previous short movie and was convinced when he saw him during the The Cane Cutter auditions.

“I hope this movie will open international opportunities for me.”

Model, TV and radio personality Vanessa Marawa is also looking forward to stepping up to a more significant role on the big screen.

Marawa plays Prudence (Pru), a single mother who is driven and focused.

Dr Eubulus Timothy with The Cane Cutter’s cast Dr Kajal Lutchminarain, Vanessa Marawa and Shika Maharaj. Picture: Supplied

Independent on Saturday