Keeping Up with the Kandasamys

Jailoshini Naidoo and Maeshni Naicker. (Photo supplied)
Jailoshini Naidoo and Maeshni Naicker. (Photo supplied)

What it's about:

Shanti Naidoo is a typical Type-A personality. Always on the move, going out of her way to please people, and overcompensating for her perceived inadequacies by continually cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Her life would be just fine, except that her neighbour, Jennifer Kandasamy, always seems to hold the upper hand! Somehow, Jennifer seems to outdo whatever Shanti does, and life appears to be a constant battle of trying to keep up.

What we thought: 

South Africa’s film market is quite dominated by Afrikaners, so it’s quite a change of pace to watch a local film about a section of our Rainbow Nation that is not often represented in media. Keeping up with the Kandasamys is a lovely stroll through Durban’s famous Indian suburb Chatsworth and the lives of those who live there, even if it might be exaggerated. The two leading ladies Jailoshini Naidoo and Maeshni Naicker are a dynamite duo and you can't help but wonder why we haven’t seen them in more movies.

The Kandasamys have been living next door to the Naidoos for years, yet they remain passionate enemies. When they find out their kids are secretly in love, the two mothers reluctantly team up to tear them apart. 

Though it does feel a bit like an Indian Romeo and Juliet (same drama, less death), the film focuses on the mothers and their decade-long quarrel. The disses and clapbacks are pure gold, and these veteran actresses’ comedic timing can make Trevor Noah take notes. Director Jayan Moodley and writer Rory Booth work great as a team and produced an entertaining comedy that will make you scream with laughter. Though it doesn’t hit the mark 100%, it still has a fantastic batting score. The late producer Junaid Ahmed would have been proud of this one.

Supporting the two main characters are their on-screen husbands, eager to keep their friendship secret from their warring wives, and are just all-around classic dads. Even though the film celebrates Indian culture and identity, the characters remain relatable across all racial and cultural lines, connecting with the audience’s own familial experiences. We all have a Grandmother Aya, who is the real queen of the film in her blue-tinted shades, and wins the award for coolest granny.

The couple, played by Madushan Singh and Mishqah Parthiephal, were more cookie-cut lovers, though the pair were still entertaining to watch. Parthiephal does have more star power though and I’m sure Bollywood will grab her if South African cinema doesn’t give her enough attention. The one thing that failed the movie was the dramatic scenes. When it finally comes out why the two women have been at each other’s throats all these years, the film takes a sudden sombre turn that doesn’t really fit with the first part of the film. The emotions and tears felt like they were being forced through a meat grinder, but luckily it managed to find its way back to the humour for the end, complete with a Bollywood dance number.

Keeping up with the Kandasamys is a lovely comedy that delivers a delicious feast of local flavour and witty dialogue. You don’t have to be Indian to enjoy the charm of the Kandasamys and the Naidoos, and you might be craving some curry after all those food scenes.