New star in SA film sequel

2010-04-24 00:00

FOR South African actor Wandile Molebatsi, being selected for the lead role in A Million­ Colours: e’Lollipop II was like finding the Holy Grail of the acting world.

He will be playing Muntu Ndebele in a film inspired by the true story of what happened to the young stars of the original e’Lollipop — Ndebele and Norman Knox (played by Idols winner Jason Hartman) — after they shot to fame in the seventies, focusing particularly on Ndebele’s fall from grace into a life of drugs and crime and his struggle to regain hope.

But it is more than just a story of redemption. Canadian director Peter Bishai, who also penned the screenplay, describes the film as a mixture of Slumdog Millionaire and Romeo & Juliet, adding: “It is a love story filled with adventure, action, intrigue, star-crossed lovers, redemption and courage.”

Speaking during a break in filming at a village in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, Molebatsi said he was very shocked to get the lead.

“So many actors wanted to play the role — but the importance of it only hit me when I spoke to my mom,” he added. “She and my dad saw the film when it came out and loved it. She went wild when I got the part.”

He also feels honoured to be able to tell Ndebele’s story, adding that it has been extremely helpful having him on set to give him guidance. “He’s so honest about things that a lot of us wouldn’t be so honest about. It was great being able to hang out with him,” Molebatsi said.

Asked what the best moment in filming had been so far, he said: “The coolest moments had to be doing my own stunts …

“But my best scenes are probably those I shot with [the actress playing] Muntu’s mom. In the film he’s been stealing cars and he’s trying to reconcile with her by giving her money. She wants to get back together with her son, but she doesn’t approve of his life of crime.”

Working on e’Lollipop II is not Molebatsi’s first appearance on film. The actor, who admits wanting to act since his school days at Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg, also appeared in 1996’s Born Free: A New Adventure and in the 2006 TV film, Cuppen.

His television credits include Soul City, Soul Buddies, When We Were Black, the soapie Rhythm City, and he had a walk-on role in the American drama ER.

When filming wraps on e’Lollipop II, Molebatsi will be turning his attention to his second love — music. He and his band, Uju (which means honey in Zulu), have a new album, titled Free, which is due to be released soon.

So, will he be singing anything on the e’Lollipop II soundtrack? The answer is possibly. He and Hartman have chatted about jamming together.

A Million Colours: e’Lollipop II will be launched at the Cannes Film Festival in May and is due to be released in SA by the end of the year.

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