Banker breathes life into film

2008-02-01 00:00

The only thing Kumaran Naidu would bank on now is that South African film audiences continue their appreciation of the country's growing indie filmmakers. Ten years ago, all he would have banked on would have been your end-of-month pay cheque.

The banker-turned-filmmaker is currently working on his latest sequel when I phone him. “It was always my dream and passion to become a filmmaker,” says Naidu, settling down in his director's chair. “Although I didn't go to film school, I practised editing as a hobby and dissected movies as if I was the director. I worked on very small projects and learned how to write scripts, direct and film through a process of problem solving.”

Like most indie filmmakers, Naidu believes in authenticity above all else. “I don't really watch movies like I used to, because I don't want to get ideas from other filmmakers,” he says. “I want to be original.”

Naidu said no one wanted to touch his first feature, Broken Promises. Made on a shoe-string budget when he could get time off, Naidu shot the film in 21 days in 2003. He initially had an agreement to show the film in cinemas in Durban, “but there were certain specifications I wasn't told about, which caused that idea to fall through,” he says. “So, I sold it directly as a DVD, and it sold over 50 000 copies.”

At the time, Naidu wasn't aware of the extent of DVD piracy, which became both his enemy and, inadvertently, his saviour. Although he did not receive any revenue, illegal sales of his film topped half a million in South Africa, and two million in Pakistan, where it was a hit. “I tried to stop them pirating the sequel, Broken Promises 2, by showing it only once at Gateway's premiere in March this year,” he said. “But that one day was all they needed.”

“Now I have accepted their role in the distribution of the film and, although I won't make money from it, at least my name is getting out there.”

After breaking into the film scene with his cult hit debut, Naidu also filmed Run for your Life and is now working on its sequel, subtitled, The Revenge of Bush Knife Bobby.

Talking about tonight's film, Naidu says the first Broken Promise has a controversial story line about Indian family issues, whereas the second is more entertaining and works as a comedy. He emphasises, too, that it's a South African story. “I had non-Indians say the family situation portrayed in the film was very similar to theirs.”

The making of Broken Promises 2 was made easier by the creation of Vollywood Productions, a combination of Naidu's Garuda Motion Pictures and AfriCommunications, owned by the films Executive Producer Magashan Reddy.

“I was able to advertise for the cast, hire a bigger crew and make the film 100% professional,” Naidu says. “It's a full-time job now and I am aiming to make four to five films a year.”

After he completes his latest film, Naidu plans to film a dramatic love story, which he will start in September.

“Anyone can be a filmmaker these days,” says Naidu. “All you need is a good story.”

•Broken Promises 2 is showing at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 6.15 pm. Naidu will be attending this screening.

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