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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

ONE WEDDING AND A FUNERAL (article first published : 2008-04-28; last edited : [an error occurred while processing this directive])

“Revenge is a dish best served cold” is the theme behind award-winning film director James Brown’s short film One Wedding and a Funeral which stars Upasana Beharee in a finely-tuned performance as the wronged and vengeful Kareena.

Kareena returns to the family home she left under a dark cloud five years before. The reason for her visit is the funeral of her grandfather and the sight of him as well as the guilt she feels for not coming to see him earlier makes her decide to set things straight once and for all.

As the story unfolds we realize that her leaving was not of her own making. After her own parents died, she was left in the care of her aunt and uncle. The uncle – and not Kareena, as the family still believes – was the cause of her departure. In the few days before and after her cousin’s wedding (which was not postponed for the untimely death of their grandfather), Kareena sets out to extract her cold-blooded and cleverly-planned revenge on her uncle.

One Wedding and a Funeral was written by James Brown and Upasana Beharee and was produced on a “zero budget” with James Brown acting as a one-man production crew. It was shot with a hand-held camera over a period of three weeks in Durban, with the exception of the wedding scene which was shot in Pietermaritzburg. Considering these strictures, James Brown has edited the footage tightly and effectively.

The strong casting line-up involves some of the who’s who of Durban talent who have all appeared in many movie and stage productions as well as on Lotus FM radio dramas. Strong performances are seen from Ashwin Singh as the licentious Uncle Prem with Ashika Gangasagar as his wife as well as from Rajesh Gopie and Shika Budhoo. Other featured roles are taken by Vivian Moodley, Koobeshen Naidoo, Lovie Ramisrai, Orrit Maharaj, Pranesh Maharaj, Henry Ramkissoon, Hitesh Daya and Akash Ramdin.

Tansen Nepaul’s evocative soundtrack which he donated to the project makes a considerable contribution to the movie.

This is a film that sets out to deal with the issue of child abuse, a major problem that is so rife in today’s society and all too-often hushed-up in the Indian community.

While I appreciate that it’s a contemporary style of filming, I’m not a great fan of fragmented images, particularly in a dramatic film of this length where the audience needs to be aware of the personalities and undercurrents as quickly as possible. We need to follow the plot from Kareena’s perspective and appreciate the workings of her mind because this impacts on her actions and personal relationships.

Working with only three lights and deliberately under-lit, the resulting footage is often too dark to identify what’s happening and, while it maintains the mood, it also risks the loss of the audience’s understanding. However, this will be better when the film is played on television screens, as I have no doubt it will be. I was also aware of some major sound imbalances.

This said, One Wedding and a Funeral is a strong and highly dramatic production and those involved can be rightly proud of their involvement in it. Hats off to James Brown and Upasana Beharee for getting out there and putting together a good movie on a shoestring without government or corporate support. More, please! – Caroline Smart




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