Sex, drugs and gospel

CityPress - - News - AMANDA SONO and CHARL BLIG­NAUT news@city­press.co.za

A dar­ing new TV drama about the soar­ing highs and ter­ri­fy­ing lows of life in the South African mu­sic in­dus­try hits our screens on Thurs­day on OpenView HD’s eKasi+. And by the time it airs on e.tv in June, we’ll surely see #Hus­tle trend­ing on Twit­ter weekly.

When City Press vis­ited the set of Hus­tle in Dube, Soweto, the show’s di­rec­tor, Jah­mil XT Qubeka, says: “It is very racy ... Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. And be­ing able to have that kind of can­vas to play on has been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. And I’m work­ing with fan­tas­tic ac­tors.”

The stars of Hus­tle are the tal­ented, larger-than-life trio of Brenda Ngx­oli, Masello Motana and Dineo Ranaka. Qubeka made head­lines when his gritty fea­ture film Of Good Re­port was briefly banned by the Film and Pub­li­ca­tion Board in 2013. It went on to win awards around the world.

We find the award-win­ning Ngx­oli (Ses’To­pla, Rockville) qui­etly pre­par­ing for her scenes in the church that is the set­ting for the day.

She plays the role of Kitt. In the 1980s, Kitt, Neo and Ked­i­bone were the mem­bers of a fa­mous group called The Spar­rows. Kitt went solo be­fore she crashed and burned, and now she’s mak­ing a come­back.

“She started out in gospel, like all mu­si­cians,” laughs Ngx­oli, her char­ac­ter mod­estly dressed with nat­u­ral hair. “They keep on say­ing that she is a Brenda [Fassie] type of char­ac­ter. But I would like to say that the song that res­onates for me in my head is [Chaka Khan’s] I’m Ev­ery Woman ... be­cause the many facets of her rep­re­sent al­most all the women in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.”

As for sim­i­lar­i­ties with the char­ac­ter, Ngx­oli laughs again, telling City Press that when she’s not work­ing, she spends all her time in the East­ern Cape, build­ing the fam­ily homestead.

Her nose deep in a book as she waits for her next scene, Motana – also a jazz singer, poet and satirist – is en­thu­si­as­tic about her role as a church-go­ing and con­ser­va­tive Neo.

“It is my first time per­form­ing in a Pre­to­ria di­alect, Sip­i­tori! I think it is a great story and we are a re­ally strong cast.”

Ranaka ar­rives on set in her py­ja­mas with a film crew fol­low­ing her as they shoot Sea­son 5 of her re­al­ity show, Dineo’s Di­ary.

“This is my first big role in a drama,” she says ex­cit­edly in the make-up room. “I have done oth­ers, but the oth­ers were just cameos ... I au­di­tioned for Kedi and I was pretty ner­vous be­cause I au­di­tioned against very cred­i­ble ac­tresses, and ob­vi­ously I am the pre­sen­ter in the fam­ily and Manaka [Ranaka, her sis­ter] is the ac­tress.”

In Hus­tle, the three lead­ing ladies play op­po­site Zolisa Xaluva ( Ja­son from Gen­er­a­tions) as Bra X, Neo’s hus­band, and Andile Ne­bu­lane as Duma, their agent.

View­ers can ex­pect Hus­tle to break new ground in lo­cal TV.

“The sen­si­bil­i­ties and the ap­proach to the show aren’t typ­i­cal,” says Qubeka. “We’re shoot­ing a long fea­ture on a TV sched­ule and on a TV bud­get.” Hus­tle pre­mieres on OpenView HD on Fe­bru­ary 11 at 9pm on eKasi+

(DStv chan­nel 104)

PHO­TOS: LEON SADIKI

HUS­TLING Di­rec­tor Jah­mil XT Qubeka and ac­tress Brenda Ngx­oli go through the script on the set of Hus­tle in Soweto

NEW­BIE Pre­sen­ter and re­al­ity TV star Dineo Ranaka has her first lead role in Hus­tle

SIP­I­TORI QUEEN Masello Motana stars as the church-go­ing Neo in Hus­tle

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