SA Indian cinema is on the rise

By Latoya Newman Time of article published May 1, 2019

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AS Durban actor Thiru Naidoo recently flew off to Australia to further his career, he signed off with one of his last projects in the country, The Kings of Mulberry Street, a film set to release in June.

“The first thought that came to my mind when I read the script for this film, was that it was long overdue. This is a story that needed to be told. It is something that South African audiences would not have seen before,” he said.

Thiru says while his career abroad will focus on production, he leaves the country half-heartedly at a time, which he believes, when Indian identities will rise in film.

“In a way I feel like I am missing out because finally, SA Indian cinema is coming to the forefront with people like Judy Naidoo (The Kings of Mulberry Street), Bianca Isaac (3 Days To Go) and Eubulus Timothy (Deep End), and there is so much more that is in the pipeline, and unfortunately, I have to leave at this point.

“But this move in SA Indian cinema is what we have been waiting for. I remember when I left film school 10 years ago, I said watch out for Durban because Durban is going to be the film hub of SA.

“We have all the locations, we have the service industry, our people are hard working, and the stories that will come out of Durban will be exceptional. And it’s happening now. And I think in the next 10 to 15 years, with more directors and story-tellers like Judy, we are going to see more of these stories come out.”

Thiru has over 36 productions under his belt.

He lived in India at age 14, and for a year, laid a solid foundation in Indian classical music, which he said helped him to better understand his roots and culture.

Kings of Mulberry Street is written and directed by Judy. Set in the 80s in the sugar cane fields of KZN and Sugarhill District, it tells the story of Baboo (Shaan Nathoo) and his best friend Ticky (Aaqil Hoosen), two nine-year-old misfits drawn together by the shared threat of local crime boss, Raja.

The boys decide to rid their community of the evil Raja with their plan emulating the antics and mannerisms of Ticky’s Bollywood heroes.

“I play Reggie, who is the dad to one of the boys,” said Thiru.

“He’s also down and out, and under the thumb of one of the local thugs. He’s also a character who sort of lives in all of us. He deals with a lot of internal struggle. He’s a father who is just really trying to provide for his family the only way he knows how. Reggie is an ‘outie’, a regular guy who is everybody’s friend.”

On working with the director, he said: “Judy is very hands-on. She knows exactly what she is looking for and she communicates really well.

“She works really well from a technical and performance perspective. She is very well balanced and well-rounded as a director, and from an audience perspective I think audiences are in for a real cinematic treat.”

* Kings of Mulberry Street will release on the big screen on June 28.

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