It’s not a great film, but a good premise on which to build. We have the stories, the talent and, as far as I am concerned, a unique sense of humour that still needs to be captured on film. Judging from the opening weekend success of Keeping up with the Kandasamys (R1.6 million), the South African public agrees.
It has a killer soundtrack, a couple of cool shots of Durban (an underutilised location), a subtle colour treatment, some lekker local vernacular and a wonderful Bollywood-style dance routine at the end.
It is touted as a love story and as a rivalry between the two moms, but, in the end, it deals with family and class with surprising depth (for a rom com). I especially enjoyed the bromance between the two dads.
What stood out most, though, was the snapshot it gives you of Indian life, culture and family values in Chatsworth, Durban. I’ll gladly take another helping of that.
Unfortunately, an otherwise promising script was haltered by the acting, which was a bit staccato – sometimes forced, and other times over the top. Actors need to be cast for their talent, and not their looks.
There were some beautifully styled scenes (the washing line in the backyard, the yellow wall where the moms chat), but, overall, the filming and styling were mediocre. I’ve said this before: the standard of cinematography and art direction in South Africa is exceptionally high. There’s no excuse for bland filmmaking.
The more promising parts (script, soundtrack, the more experienced actors) did not add up to a great film, and that is the responsibility of the director. Keeping up with the Kandasamys lacked clear direction.
In summary, it is worthwhile seeing for the familiarity of the lingo, the setting and the snapshot of Chatsworth. Don’t expect too much, though.