Tack­ling surf cul­ture on a big screen


HOT on the heels of its suc­cess at the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Oc­to­ber, award-win­ning di­rec­tor Eubu­lus Ti­mothy’s Deep End is set to hit the big screen soon.

The film, pro­duced by Ar­clight Pro­duc­tions, fea­tures Car­ishma Bas­day in the lead as Su­nitha, Greg Kriek as Cory, and Su­raya Rose-San­tos as Nina – with a guest ap­pear­ance by South African surf­ing leg­end Spi­der Mur­phy.

The com­ing-of-age ro­man­tic drama tells the story of a young girl who over­comes fam­ily pres­sure and racism to pur­sue her “not cul­tur­ally ac­cept­able” pas­sion with the help of an un­likely cham­pion surfer try­ing to es­cape his drug ad­dic­tion and his own fam­ily demons.

She is the ap­ple of her fa­ther’s eye and this con­flict al­most de­stroys the very foun­da­tion of their once-strong bond, un­mask­ing the pain of his for­got­ten past.

Ti­mothy said Deep End was born on the day his sis­ter got mar­ried.

“Af­ter the wed­ding in Dur­ban, my par­ents and the rest of my sib­lings drove back to my home in Cape Town. That night, on the old di­lap­i­dated road be­tween Beth­le­hem and Bloem­fontein, I was driv­ing and my dad was asleep next to me.

“Sud­denly he cried out. I thought he had seen some­thing on the dark­ened road ahead. He said, ‘Chloe is mar­ried huh!’ That in­ci­dent trig­gered the thought about what a fa­ther goes through when his daugh­ter is of a cer­tain age and she is no longer a girl,” he said.

Ti­mothy said the char­ac­ters were ex­cit­ing and en­er­getic and easy to re­late to on a global level.

“The is­sues they deal with are com­mon and peren­nial. Re­la­tion­ships, fam­ily and a sense of be­long­ing.

“But, more im­por­tant, Deep End is about cul­ture, cap­tur­ing the essence of the an­cient Gu­jarati cul­ture in the

21st cen­tury, and the ex­treme and some­times dark cul­ture of surf­ing.”

Ti­mothy added that one did not have to be a surfer to iden­tify be­cause surf­ing was an as­pi­ra­tional thing.

“Though it is never a fre­quent bucket list item yet, we all wish we could do it.

“The beach cul­ture is the very heart of Dur­ban. Fish­ing among the In­dian com­mu­nity goes back to 1860 when they first ar­rived on the shores of Dur­ban as in­den­tured labour­ers.

“Yet surf­ing for the In­dian com­mu­nity is noted from afar. It be­longed mainly to the white com­mu­nity and In­di­ans would watch with not much as­pi­ra­tion.

“Fuelled lo­cal­ism that leads reg­u­larly to fights over who owns the waves at a par­tic­u­lar beach still ex­ists. So when a group of young white fe­male surfers sees Su­nitha ‘steal’ their waves, it opens up a new lo­cal­ism that trans­lates to women.

“Their fear deep­ens when they see their heart-throb Cory fall for Su­nitha. This leads to surf rage and pseudo-racism. Deep End is about hope and pas­sion, tra­di­tion and change.”

The film has been well re­ceived, hav­ing pre­miered at the re­cent Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val – no easy feat to se­cure.

Asked why he thought it res­onated so well with au­di­ences, Ti­mothy said: “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get the re­sponses I got, es­pe­cially (in) Cape Town. There was a com­mon theme that seemed to res­onate with the au­di­ences. Dreams were the main theme that peo­ple spoke about…

“An op­por­tu­nity for Su­nitha’s hid­den dream to be ful­filled. How does she fol­low her dreams and not lose her cul­ture? This is a ques­tion that has to be ex­plored in the new South Africa.

“A lot of my fe­male friends who read the script iden­ti­fied with Kal­pana’s (the lead char­ac­ter’s mother) for­got­ten dreams.

“Some­one told me: ‘That’s my life. My fam­ily loves me but they don’t un­der­stand me.’ It was the mis­placed dream of an overzeal­ous fa­ther. A fa­ther out of his depth who thinks he un­der­stands the women in his life.

“Other points that peo­ple men­tioned were the re­al­ism in por­tray­ing women. They iden­ti­fied with the strength and power of the mother.”

Speak­ing about Bas­day, Ti­mothy said: “Af­ter al­most a year of search­ing, Jailoshini Naidoo in­tro­duced me to Car­ishma. She came up to Dur­ban from Cape Town and read for me at my of­fice. I knew I had found my lead.

“Car­ishma iden­ti­fied with the char­ac­ter and saw her­self in Su­nitha. She is pro­fes­sional. She did her home­work. Knew her lines. She was first on set and was to­tally com­mit­ted to Su­nitha.”

While Deep End is set to re­lease at cin­e­mas in March, Ti­mothy is al­ready steer­ing more projects ahead. “We are work­ing on The Cane

Cut­ter, a ro­man­tic com­edy that spans 100 years. It is about a young man who drops out of uni­ver­sity to make a doc­u­men­tary about his great-grand­fa­ther, who came as an in­den­tured labourer on the last ship. It is about the 1860 set­tlers and their de­scen­dants and their con­tri­bu­tion to South Africa.

“I have also been given a great op­por­tu­nity to re­make John Os­borne’s Look Back in Anger.

Richard Bur­ton played the lead in the orig­i­nal.

“It is such a thrill to do this. I will set it in Phoenix (Dur­ban). Re­mem­ber, it’s about the an­gry young man in a class war.”


Car­ishma Bas­day inDeep End.

On lo­ca­tion with some of the DeepEnd crew, from left: Ash­ley Ald­worth, Eubu­lus Ti­mothy, Ebrahim Ha­jee and Fran­cois Coetzee

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