Mandla N telling re­lat­able sto­ries

TV pro­ducer says it’s time to change the game

Sunday World - - Life - By Boi­tumelo Kgob­otlo kgob­ot­lob@sun­day­

The man be­hind Lock­down says the se­ries was suc­cess­ful sim­ply be­cause he told the story.

“Be­ing a black man grow­ing up in Soweto, no one can tell our uniquely black sto­ries bet­ter than we can,” Mandla N says pas­sion­ately.

The 38-year-old says af­ter years of be­ing fas­ci­nated with in­ter­na­tional se­ries, he felt the need to turn the wheel and pro­duce strictly lo­cal with an in­ter­na­tional ap­peal.

He was es­pe­cially fond of Martin Lawrence be­cause he con­sid­ered him­self a co­me­dian. Lit­tle did he know his suc­cess years later would see him col­lab­o­rate with one of the Martin com­edy show stars, Tichina Arnold, who played Pam.

She fea­tured in the last sea­son of the fe­male prison drama.

Ear­lier this year, Lock­down, bagged the best achieve­ment in di­rect­ing award from the SA Film Tele­vi­sion Awards (Safta).

His fol­low up se­ries, Side Dish, a four­part drama se­ries which started on SABC 1 0n Au­gust 19, was equally en­gag­ing.

It told the story of four mar­ried women who head out of town for a girl’s week­end away a, “man free” week­end, un­til one of the women’s side dish ar­rives. The week­end turns into a drunken, sen­sual mess which ends in tragedy.

Be­ing an ac­tor him­self, he res­onates with telling au­then­tic sto­ries that have mass ap­peal, es­pe­cially those that African peo­ple can re­late to.

Be­fore be­ing a big time pro­ducer, he was known for his role as Themba Khu­malo in the SABC 1 sit­com, City Ses’la and its spin off se­ries, Ses’Top La a se­ries pro­duced by the com­pany he started, Black Brain pic­tures back in 2001.

The Pimville home­boy, who ma­tric­u­lated from De La Salle Col­lege in Vic­tory Park in 1999, says the idea for the pro­duc­tion com­pany came as a re­sult of his re­la­tion­ship with a fel­low AFDA grad­u­ate and friend, Tumi Masemola.

He was a busy some­body with an added tal­ent for mu­sic. This led to him co-found­ing hit­mak­ing band , Gang of In­stru­men­tals, with Masemola.

Mandla and Masemola, who later got mar­ried, were part­nered in the band by Riot and the trio pro­duced pop­u­lar mu­sic in­fused with in­flu­ences from hip hop, street rap, pop, soul, R&B, kwaito, reg­gae and rock. Their mon­ster hit Woza De­cem­ber would be Black Brains sav­ing grace in terms of fi­nances.

“My jour­ney was bit rough, I got into so much debt be­cause no­body un­der­stood African sto­ries back then,” he said. But he says it was his call­ing to make the busi­ness a suc­cess as he needed black peo­ple to be proud of who they are through his sto­ries.

“There are a lot of sto­ries from our own com­mu­ni­ties to be told and the re­ac­tion to my pro­duc­tions made me re­alise that cit­i­zens have al­ways been ready for SA con­tent. Be­ing from a town­ship, I woke up daily see­ing sto­ries be­ing played out around me that had to be told through a big­ger medium. There are still more sto­ries to be told, I want to con­tinue en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple,” he said.

He has also pro­duced Ga Re Dumele, Abomzala and many more.

His hope is to tell more sto­ries by young black film mak­ers em­ployed by his com­pany.

“The sto­ries de­ter­mine the suc­cess of the pro­duc­tion and the num­bers. I have the high­est watched sit­coms and dra­mas be­cause I un­der­stand them from the peo­ple’s point of view and what the client wants. It’s also a game of eco­nom­ics.

Films by white di­rec­tors still get the fund­ing and cor­po­rates don’t come forth when it comes to young tal­ented black film mak­ers. That needs to change.”

Mandla N is pas­sion­ate about SA sto­ries

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.