Radio Kalahari Orkes turns into reel thing
Rooi-jan watches his PCS and cues in new film
CONTROVERSIAL SA writer Rian Malan has temporarily put down his non-pc pen to become “Rooi-jan” Malan, the lead actor in a movie about the cult band Radio Kalahari Orkes.
Malan, known more for his thought-provoking and often controversial articles than his acting ability, plays a lone ranger searching for the whereabouts of the band, known as the RKO, in the recently released one-hour film titled The Secret of Slangfontein.
The RKO, led by veteran actor, director and television personality Ian Roberts, plays old- style boeremusiek and prides itself on being 100 years behind the times.
Featuring popular musicians Jack Parow and Valiant Swart, the film is marketed by independent record label Rhythm Records as a “journey into the Radio Kalahari Orkes cult-consciousness”.
It starts with Malan, who composes the band’s songs and writes its lyrics, travelling in a bakkie along a dusty country road and picking up a strange radio station playing boeremusiek. Curious, he asks everyone he meets if they know where to find the band, which hides out in Slangfontein, but nobody can help him. Undeterred, he presses on.
In the second half, Malan accompanies the band to the 2010 Oppikoppi festival, which leads to some of the funniest moments in the film as he interviews festival-goers.
The movie ends with a powerful performance of one of the band’s favourite songs, Staan My By, which is more rock than boeremusiek, from the band’s album, Heuningland, featuring singer Chris Chameleon.
Asked about his role in the film, Malan said: “I’m still looking for Slangfontein.
“I wasn’t really acting, I was just playing myself in the middle of a rainstorm north of Upington, looking like a lone ranger and wearing a Liewe Heksie hat,” he said
“As far as I’m concerned, boeremusiek saved my life… my life in Cape Town in the rain along with the general pointlessness of politics.”
Ian Roberts, starring in the M-net soap opera The Wild, said he’d been playing with the RKO for five years and the movie came about “because I’ve always believed we should create a trend, because the band is so enigmatic”.
In the movie, Roberts plays the Radio Kalahari anchorman who answers calls from listeners. “It was great fun to do the movie.
“The challenge was to come up with the right words on the spur of the moment.”
Roberts said his cousin, Dan Roberts, who grew up with him on a farm in the Eastern Cape, introduced him to Jack Parow.
Of Malan, Roberts said: “He has an extraordinary talent.
“In the beginning his ideas may seem strange, but later you tend to agree with them.
“He gets depressed when we play a song live and mess it up. But there’s no such thing as perfection in music.”
The video of the movie will be sold at the band’s shows.
Malan’s writing has caused much controversy in the past decade.
Last month, he wrote that the apartheid army had won the war in Angola and never lost the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1987, contrary to the general view.
His 2009 book, Resident Alien, which led the London Times to comment that he was “SA’S Hunter S Thompson”, includes an essay claiming there was no Third Force involved in the Boipatong massacre of June 1992, in which 48 people were killed.
But perhaps his most controversial statement was that 60 000 people may have died because of Aids over a five-year period in SA, when UNAIDS estimates that 250 000 people died.
This led to accusations that he was an Aids denialist. firstname.lastname@example.org
ROAD TRIP: Writer Rian Malan as he appears in the new movie called The Secret of Slangfontein.