A story of hope, jus­tice and vic­tory

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - FILM - Hla­ban­gani Mt­shali

“Bad things hap­pen all the time, you know. You just have to pick up the pieces,” are the first words spo­ken in the new doc­u­men­tary film de­tail­ing the night that would go on to de­fine one of South Africa’s most tal­ented and in­flu­en­tial hiphop artists.

The film, di­rected by Monde Sibisi, is a screen­grab of 2013, the year in which hip-hop su­per­star Khuli Chana’s life and ca­reer were changed and al­most ended.

It opens on a high, show­ing what is a high­light reel of Khuli (real name Khu­lane Morule’s) peak. Things were look­ing up: he had just re­leased his al­bum, Lost in Time, and was rid­ing the wave of hit sin­gles, ma­jor awards and, at one point, was do­ing up to 20 gigs a month.

It was while driv­ing to one of these gigs in Oc­to­ber 2013 that the South African Po­lice Ser­vice bun­gled a sting op­er­a­tion and fired nine shots at his car af­ter mis­tak­ing him for a kid­nap­per they were af­ter.

This is the incit­ing in­ci­dent of the film. The viewer is then taken through the whirl­wind of emo­tions the rap­per had to weather as feel­ings of self-doubt, fear and para­noia took a hold of his life.

As much as this well-shot film jux­ta­poses the high­est and low­est points of the 33-year-old rap­per’s ca­reer, it also high­lights in its nar­ra­tive the is­sue of po­lice bru­tal­ity and the me­dia cov­er­age thereof in South Africa.

On­line head­lines and news clips are in­ter­spersed with talk­ing-head interviews with the peo­ple clos­est to Khuli and the in­ci­dent, in­clud­ing fam­ily, friends, lawyers and even eNCA’s Karyn Maughn. And the mes­sage sent in this aptly-paced doc­cie is clear: South Africa may have a po­lice prob­lem.

Al­though it plays like a very long EPK, Pick­ing up the Pieces is ul­ti­mately a story of hope and how a man on top of the world was shot down but man­aged to emerge vic­to­ri­ous from the gun smoke and it’s a good watch.

Pic­ture: Gallo Images

COME­BACK KID. Khuli Chana dur­ing an in­ter­view about his shoot­ing in Midrand, Jo­han­nes­burg, on Novem­ber 1, 2013. Chana was shot at by po­lice nine times in a case of mis­taken iden­tity.

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