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Review: Kings of Mulberry Street (2019)


Director: Judy Naidoo | 90 minutes comedy, | Actors: , , Amith Sing, , , Chris Forrest, , Thiru Naidoo, , ,

Judy Naidoo grew up in the city of Verulam, north of Durban in the 1980s. Durban is a city that was built by contract workers who had come from India to South Africa to work and then got stuck there. Her childhood in the Verulam of the eighties uses Naidoo – under the fictional name Sugarhill District – as a backdrop for her youth film ‘Kings of Mulberry Street’ (‘Kings of Mullberry Street’) (2019), her second feature film after the ‘Hatchet Hour from . Moreover, a film that she not only directed, but also wrote and produced. Naidoo was inspired to draw on her own experiences by a teacher who encouraged her to tell her own stories during a film course in New York. “He emphasized how important it was to come up with stories that are close to me. On the long flight back home, the “Kings of Mullberry Street” story began to bubble and take shape. I came up with the characters Ticky and Baboo, who are largely inspired by the strange and crazy children I remembered from my childhood. And since I also have some strange traits, I can easily identify with them! ”

“Kings of Mulberry Street” follows two young, completely different Indian boys who decide to join forces to deal with a nasty local criminal. Ticky Chetty (Aaqil Hoosen) is a worldly wise rascal, an energetic jump-in-the-field who loves Bollywood films and imitates his heroes with passion and pleasure. Ticky is of simple descent and lives with his parents (Thiru Naidoo and Rizelle Januk), sisters and grandmother (Kogie Naidoo). His new neighbor, Harold “Badoo” Singh (Shaan Natoo), has a very different background. He moved from Johannesburg to Sugarhill District because his father Dev (Amith Sing) lost his job as a journalist. What happened to his mother is not entirely clear, but it is clear that the Singhs had to take a big step back. While his father is working all day, Badoo is at home (until the school holidays are over). It doesn’t take long for Ticky to contact his new neighbor. Because despite their different backgrounds, the boys seem to find each other in their lively fantasy. They also hate Raja (Neville Pillay), a criminal who holds the neighborhood in his grip. For example, he takes Badoo’s bike and has Ticky’s father Reggie do nasty jobs for a hungry wage. When they discover that Raja wants to use Reggy as a drug courier, they come up with a plan to get rid of Raja once and for all.

Judy Naidoo made a colorful, cheerful film in which she pays tribute to her own childhood memories. In addition to her former hometown and his colorful company of residents, “Kings of Mulberry Street” is also a poem on films from her youth and the accompanying movie stars (including , Rajinikanth and Sridevi). In this film, subtlety is hard to find: especially the adult characters are caricature and over the top. Criminal Raja, for example, is an excited position with a golden tooth blackmailing the residents of Sugarhill District and small children taking their bikes. His sidekick is a huge stupid person with the name Size (Keshan Chetty). Reggie is a man without a backbone, who is let off with a few rotcents and then cannot or will not explain this to his wife. The children experience exciting adventures (although you may wonder if drugs, weapons and aggression are not too intense for the young target group), but they are not really sympathetic. Badoo is often goofy and pressure maker Ticky is downright annoying. Even in the cinema, he still jumps up and down to imitate his heroes. “Koningen van Mulberrystraat” looks great and is colorful and lively. On the other hand, the film is so noisy, busy and full (and therefore tiring) that the playing time of ninety minutes is more than sufficient.

Kings of Mulberry Street (2019) Comedy, Family | 90min | 28 June 2019 (South Africa) 6.8
Director: Judy NaidooWriter: Judy NaidooStars: Aaqil Hoosen, Shaan Nathoo, Amith SingSummary: What if the only way two young Kwazulu Natal boys can defeat the bullying local lord who's threatening their families, is through their belief that one can be a Bollywood hero. Feisty TICKY is like a tjara artful dodger - cheeky and daring with a streetwise swagger and little respect for rules. He escapes the realities of his 80's Sugarhill District existence by living in a Bollywood dream world where he's an unbeatable hero. Rooftops are his kingdom. When chubby, timid BABOO moves into the neighbourhood with his snooty, academic dad, Ticky thinks he's the biggest loser he's ever seen - but soon the two boys are drawn together by the shared threat of local bully and crime boss, RAJA. These two nine year-old misfits decide to rid their community of the evil Raja. Their plan - emulate the antics and mannerisms of Bollywood hereos. The battle between escapism and harsh reality is not evenly matched, yet these heroes share a loyalty so special that it can conquer all.


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