|Blog - Film Reviews|
Local audiences have witnessed an increasing number of South African films on circuit in recent years. 31 Million Reasons has indeed proved to be one of the most anticipated. With a successful marketing campaign on television, radio and print media, the film became a talking point on social networks, inspiring a keen interest in the movie and resulting in sold-out cinema theatres in its opening week.
The film, directed by John Barker, is based on a true story about a band of Indian men from Chatsworth, Durban who were involved in a SBV heist in 1997. While the actual amount of cash stolen has never been confirmed, nor have all those involved been identified, the total amount stolen is rumoured to be around 31 million rand. Various versions of the event exist, yet ultimately, a complicated web of foolish spending and impulsive decisions resulted in some of the men being imprisoned. The money was never recovered.
As the lead, Jack Devnarain plays crooked cop, Ronnie, alongside his equally warped brother Jugs, played by Rahul Brijnath. While Ronnie is the less violent of the two, their relationship seems to be based on a close bond, until we realise that Ronnie’s wife is secretly sleeping with Jugs.
The plot soon unfolds, as the brothers team up with Reggie played compellingly by Neville Pillay, an unreliable, alcoholic security guard who owes them money. They enlist the help of Smiley and Akash. Smiley is an elderly Muslim man played by Durban comedian, Afzal Khan who owns a hardware store and is an expert at electronics. Riaz Mansoor plays Akash, a young Indian immigrant who is an exploited waiter at an upmarket restaurant. Together they succeed at pulling off the heist. However, their victory is short-lived as the police begin to close in on them. While the movie may seem predictable at times, the unexpected twist at the end is one of the redeeming moments of the film.
As an ardent moviegoer and supporter of local cinema, I felt the film was ambitious yet it failed to fulfil my expectations. Premiering at No. 2 at the box office, one wonders if this was due to the hype surrounding the film or sheer curiosity sparked by the title.
I am certain many will still choose to watch the movie just to witness Indian actors in a South African production which steers away from the Bollywood genre. They may however be sorely disappointed. The film presents Chatsworth as a notorious den of underhanded behaviour; a place where everybody dreams of leaving, but can’t. In stark contrast to glamourising Durban, the city’s beauty is eclipsed by seedy locations and colloquial swear words which are overused. The nude scenes were unnecessary, leaving many repulsed (and a few souls embarrassed to be sitting next to their parents). Some will argue that Durban Indian audiences are not yet ready for nudity.
The film was not all bad though. Afzal Khan provides the laughs and makes a convincingly endearing thief. Riaz Mansoor too is brilliant in his role. It was encouraging to note that many of the actors including Devnarain, Brijnath, Khan and Mansoor were present in the audience on the night I attended. Essentially, the cast seemed to have much to offer, yet the script failed to push them far enough.
Last Updated (Saturday, 03 March 2012 17:23)