Kings of Mulberry Street (2019)
Director: Judy Naidoo | 90 minutes comedy, family | Actors: Aaqil Hoosen, Shaan Nathoo, Amith Sing, Neville Pillay, Keshan Chetty, Chris Forrest, Rizelle Januk, Thiru Naidoo, Kogie Naidoo, Kimberly Arthur, Hamish Kyd
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 thriller ‘Hatchet Hour from 2016. 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 Amitabh Bachchan, 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.
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