Inkaba : Mzansi Magic's new telenovela

Cape Town – M-Net's brand-new telenovela for the Mzansi Magic channel (DStv 107) titled Inkaba with the veteran actor John Kani and a cast of 17 represents "Mzansi Magic's biggest investment over the past and upcoming financial years" says M-Net of the new local production set to hit TV screens from March.

Inkaba, an English telenovela produced by Urban Brew Studios will run from Mondays to Thursdays at 20:30 over the course of 208 episodes with the veteran actor John Kani playing a family patriarch on screen as well as the executive producer behind the scenes. The show revolves around aspirational families stretching across generations. Inkaba is the isiXhosa word meaning interconnectivity – or literally "navel" – the bond between parents and children.

Originally having the working title of Pride and Desire, the telenovela with a year's worth of episodes will be set in modern Johannesburg in rich and poor suburbs and will centre around two competitive fashion houses similar to The Bold and the Beautiful. Tragedy recently struck the production with the death of actor Muzi "Clive" Ngwenya whose role has to be recast.

Inkaba will incorporate several flashback scenes set in the former lives of the characters. These flashbacks to the 1980s decade will occur in especially the first few episodes to give exposition to the earlier lives of some of the now older Inkaba characters.

Multi-generational story

Insiders called the story "epic" and "a truly South African multi-generational tale" saying that viewers will be pulled in "by the interplay between rich and poor, the aspirational values of the fashion set and the tension that comes from the dynamic between parents, their children and everyone's professional lives and dreams".

M-Net confirmed that Mzansi Magic is "currently in pre-production for the telenovela which will launch on-air in March". Insiders mentioned a late March launch for Inkaba. Last year M-Net also put out a commissioning brief for a soap for the Mzansi Magic channel together with the telenovela, but said "the channel is still finalising its strategy for long-running series". Mzansi Magic also put out briefs for a drama and reality show but says getting Inkaba on the air is the top priority for now.

"Schedule stability has been a key area of business for the channel over the past year," says M-Net, saying that Inkaba "has all the ingredients to keep viewers hooked four nights in a row over a long period."

Inkaba will have a limited run similar to South American soap operas and will be 208 episodes of 24 minutes each to fill a half hour per day in primetime from Mondays to Thursdays for a year. Inkaba episodes will be recorded about a month in advance. "The telenovela will be filmed in a studio with a small portion of material being shot on location."

The cast is at 17 people, including the main and secondary cast. "There is a large number of featured extra roles and smaller cameo parts over and above this," says M-Net. "The sets are possibly the most innovative elements of the show as they offer 360 degree shooting in a studio as opposed to the 'flat' traditional way of shooting."

M-Net says Inkaba has been created "in such a way that we can retain our older audiences but also attract younger viewers."
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