Durban - Lady luck and some bold moves by film producer and director Lineo Sekeleoane are behind the new movie Zulu Wedding, shot in Durban and Johannesburg.
The much-talked-about romcom, described as “unashamedly romantic, glamorous and hilarious”, will come to the big screen in February and may be on the same success track as local runaway hit Keeping up With the Kandasamys earlier in the year.
On Thursday, Sekeleoane confirmed that the final touches were being made to the movie ahead of the release and spoke about how it all came together.
Durban-born actress Nondumiso Tembe, who grew up in New York and has played roles in series such as True Blood, NCIS, Castle and Michael Jackson, Searching for Neverland, takes the lead role in the movie as Lou "Lungile" who will do anything to avoid falling in love.
Lou avoids, at all costs, going home to South Africa, where she's traditionally engaged to a king. Then she meets her soulmate, Tex, played by US actor Darrin Dewitt-Henson. The drama unfolds from there.
Sekeleoane said the plot first came to her when she was sitting in a hospital emergency room 10 years ago. “I formulated a joke scenario for a friend of mine and she liked the character, an insane traffic cop by the name of Mabo who never takes off her uniform.
"As I started to shape that character's world, the focus of the narrative shifted to Mabo’s sister, Lou, and Zulu Wedding was born,” she said.
Fast forward a few years of planning and when Sekeleoane’s husband read an article about Nondumiso Tembe, she decided to track her down.
“By sheer chance Nondumiso happened to be on holiday in Durban and we met up. When I described the plot to her, she said ‘That’s the story of my life’ and agreed to play Lou.
“For the character of Tex, I had grown up watching Darrin (Dewitt-Henson) playing a character called Lem in the TV series Sophie. I went to LA to try to track him down and, while at a party there, I met someone who knew Darrin. He called him right there and then, and I met Darrin the next day for lunch. He was very keen to come to SA.
“I think it was written in the stars the way it has all happened,” she said.
Most of the movie was shot last year. For Sekeleoane, who has worked in television, it is her first feature film. While it is being touted as a first for SA to have a black female producer and director, she is averse to titles.
“I'm not really into firsts or titles. What matters to me is to encourage other people and show young women what can be done.”
But she is a self-confessed die-hard romantic and Zulu Wedding is for those who enjoyed Happiness is a Four-Letter Word and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
“I love marriage and I love weddings. My husband is very romantic and inspires butterflies in my stomach every day.
“With Zulu Wedding, I want people to have fun with it, have a good time and walk away with a smile on your face. I hope the audience falls in love with the characters and escapes from everything for the duration of the film,” she said.
The plot sees Lou having to confront the traditions she has been running away from since the death of her parents, when she turned 18, and the ancestral debt they left her.
She hatches a plan to confront the king and convince him to forget about her.
The cast also includes Tex’s wise-cracking friend, Nate (Carl Payne), Lou's eccentric sister, Mabo (Makgano Mambolo), her tell-it-like-it-is best friend Sam (Bubu Mazibuko), shifty Uncle Phineas (Jerry Phele) and his sexy wife, Yvonne (Kelly Khumalo).
It has been described as “paying loving tribute to the richness of African culture. It acknowledges the sometimes schizophrenic reality of many urban South Africans who live sophisticated modern lives which are, nonetheless, shaped by their family cultures, traditions and expectations”.
The film is set to open at cinemas nationwide on February 23.
The Independent on Saturday