Jailoshini as snobbish ‘semi-villain’

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Jailoshini Naidoo and Mariam Bassa in Keeping Up with the Kandasamys, due in cinemas on March 3

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BY BILLY SUTER

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Twenty Questions for award-winning TV, stage and film personality Jailoshini Naidoo (Eastern Mosaic and Lotus FM), who stars in the new movie, Keeping Up with the Kandasamys, playing a snobbish ‘semi-villain’. Scheduled for release on March 3, the film, set in Durban’s Chatsworth, has Jailoshini  and Maeshni Naicker (Broken Promises) playing matriarchal rivals of neighbouring families, whose young adult children become romantically involved. Despite their best efforts to keep them apart, the matriarchs are forced to acknowledge that love will always prevail. Jailoshini chats about the film, her career, plans and her red-faced moments over a lost cellphone and medication.
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WHEN DID ‘KEEPING UP WITH THE KANDASAMYS’ COME ABOUT – AND HOW BIG A PART DID YOU PLAY IN ITS GENESIS?

The idea and story came about a few years ago. I first became aware of it in 2015, when I auditioned.

TELL ME BRIEFLY ABOUT THE FILM AND WHY YOU WOULD ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO SEE IT 

Firstly, it’s a beautifully shot film of great quality. The themes are universal and everyone would identify with and enjoy it. It’s a tribute to Chatsworth and it has all the elements a great film needs… drama, suspense, humour. Audiences will feel many different emotions while watching. It’s a proudly South African movie.

HOW MUCH FUN DID YOU HAVE WITH YOUR ROLE?

I loved playing the role of the “semi-villain”. She’s a real snob… it’s all about her image. The rivalry between Maeshni Naiker’s character, Shanthi, and mine (Jennifer) lends itself to great comic moments.

Both women are so mean to each other and it spilled over off camera too, so we had great fun digging at each other constantly, and forcing the crew to pick sides… LOL.

Jennifer couldn’t be more different than me, so it was a wonderful challenge. There’s so much more to her, so much more lurking beneath the surface …a vulnerability, a softness behind that tough exterior …an insecurity.

We all know a Jennifer in our families. So as an actor it was a great opportunity for me to figure her out and portray her in the most authentic way possible.

WHERE AND WHEN DID FILMING TAKE PLACE?

Primarily in Chatsworth and other parts of Durban, Kloof, Point Road, the university. We filmed from June to August last year.

Earliest mornings, longest days, sometimes all-nighters, crazy hours…it was hard work, but so worth it!

WHO ARE SOME WELL-KNOWN PEOPLE WHO APPEAR IN THE FILM?

Rajesh Gopie, Koobeshan Naidoo, Maeshini Naicker, Mishqah Parthiephal, Madhushan Singh, Mariam Bassa and Neil Govender.

WHAT CHANCES OF A SEQUEL TO THE FILM – AND ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH ANY OTHER FILM PROJECTS?

I am not sure but in the movie industry there is always room for a sequel… and yes, there’s already talk of it. With regard to other film projects, I have just been cast in The Indian Detective, produced by renowned comedian-actor, Russell Peters. Shooting began earlier this month.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY INVOLVED WITH PROFESSIONALLY – AND WHAT NEXT FOR YOU?

Besides The Indian Detective, which I am filming intermittently in Cape Town, I am busy with a few projects – some new shows in the making and a few movie roles too.

My schedule is also quite hectic with my role as programme director at several corporate and private events. And, of course, my alter-ego Aunty Rumba is always in great demand.

WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Family-oriented. Compassionate. Bubbly. Grounded. Young-at-heart.

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WHAT ARE FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF (HOWEVER TRIVIAL) THAT PEOPLE ARE UNLIKELY TO KNOW?

I love wine gums and chocolate. I am obsessive about cleanliness. I am addicted to my fitness regime. I drink copious amounts of green tea. I invest a small fortune in skin-care products.

YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT IN THE PUBLIC EYE?

I was on medication for a severe sore throat but couldn’t understand why the medication was not taking effect, until I discovered, while chatting with a large group of friends at a restaurant, that I was swallowing the tablets instead of sucking on them like a lozenge and letting them dissolve in my mouth as per the administering directions on the label. I was highly embarrassed after this revelation. We laughed ourselves into a fit.

Another embarrassing moment… I was talking to someone on my cellphone and frantically searching in my handbag for my cellphone at the same time. Then, thinking that I had lost my phone, I shouted to the person I was talking to in a panic, “just hold on a sec, I think I’ve lost my cellphone”. Of course, very amused, he calmly replied: “It’s on your ear… you’re talking to me on it!”. I cringed with embarrassment!

THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU HAVE MET – AND WHO WOULD YOU GIVE GOLD TO MEET?

I’ve met and interviewed Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Hilary Swank and Cuba Gooding Jnr, as well as presidents and ministers.

I wish I had had the privilege of meeting Tata Nelson Mandela… he touched my heart. It was so evident, the warmth and sincerity emanating from this godly soul. His humility was second to none.

HOBBIES, PASTIMES AND FAVOURITE THINGS?

Reading, movies, travelling, chocolates, fitness and shoes… in that specific order. I also love spending time with my darling niece and nephews, and catching up with my old, dear friends and family.

WHAT THREE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘VASTLY OVERRATED’?

Cellphones, social media and President Donald Trump.

WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS AND PHOBIAS?

Arachnophobia – spiders and any other hairy, creepy crawlies… even those belonging to the genus Homosapien (LOL)… make me run a mile. I fear reptiles in general, and also have a great fear of  failure…and losing my loved ones.

TWO HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER?

My solo performance of acclaimed playwright, Ronnie Govender’s, one-man play, At The Edge, which toured South Africa and India.

My lead role in my new movie, Keeping up with the Kandasamys, is another highlight. I loved shooting it, particularly because it was primarily set in my home town, Chatsworth, and we worked with a most amazing team

WHAT THINGS DO YOU MOST MISS FROM CHILDHOOD?

The safety and warmth of my neighbourhood. Playing with reckless abandon without any time constraints. Family overnight/ weekend trips with all my uncles, aunts and cousins (it was an absolute blast). I also miss my loud, energetic, generous grandfather and my gracious, humble, kind, loving grandmother.

THE MOST FRIGHTENING THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

I was almost abducted by a supposed cab driver. This was the most harrowing experience ever. I actually broke out in hives. Thank God for protection and deliverance from this ordeal.

WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS’? AND WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘ABSOLUTE NO-NOS?

Absolutely fabulous: Meryl Streep, Maggie Smith, Ryan Gosling and Robert De Niro. Also… my mother’s chicken curry, author Paulo Coelho, a regular facial and a great movie.

Absolute No-nos: Men wearing baggy pants, women wearing baggy pants, and baggy pants in general. Also….saying “I love you” on the second date; matching your lip colour with your eye shadow; having unrealistic expectations; having more gold in your teeth than your personal net worth; a mullet hairstyle; and-President Donald Trump.


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