‘Smart Casuals’ directors offer a candid look at relationships in the romantic drama

“SMART Casuals” stars Anga Makubalo aka NaakMusiQ and other talented SA actors. | Supplied

“SMART Casuals” stars Anga Makubalo aka NaakMusiQ and other talented SA actors. | Supplied

Published Apr 15, 2024


Netflix’s newest local offering, “Smart Casuals”, challenges the norms of a typical romantic relationship.

The debut feature film by Zwo and Ndamu Farisani of Farisani Creations, looks at relationships in the City of Gold.

The romantic drama sees local talents like Anga Makubalo, better known as NaakMusiQ, take up the lead role alongside Terrence Ngwila (“The Wife”), Angela Sithole (“Savage Beauty”), Mandisa Constable, Nyaniso Dzedze and hip hop dance pioneer Kudzai Mureriwa.

NaakMusiQ plays Taki, a mid-30-year-old, talented photographer who has sworn off serious relationships. That is until he meets Tumi, who rocks his world, leading to a change of heart.

Meanwhile, Mahlatsi and Bheka have been together for over 12 years, with two failed trips to the altar. Viewers meet them as they make their third attempt to tie the knot and prepare for their wedding that is merely weeks away.

The film came to fruition through a partnership between Netflix and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), which aimed to alleviate the pressure filmmakers face to raise additional funding and boost recovery of the creative industry from the pandemic.

Producer Farisani said the script was chosen for production out of 284 submissions.

“Zwo, my brother, wrote the script and I felt this was the one that would be great to submit. We were funded at the end of 2021.

“It’s been a long process. Since it’s our debut feature film, we just wanted to make sure we did everything right before we released,” she said.

She said, as a producer, aside from the script being entertaining, there were other key factors that came to mind before she submitted it for funding.

“It had to be entertaining but, at the same time, we wanted to create a film that sparked conversations around critical issues.

“I feel like it’s easier for people to follow something, like on auto-pilot, but if we can create something that people can question and not just assume, that would be a great thing.

“I like stories that ask questions; stories that are not typical and that challenge things that we just accept on a day-to-day basis,” said Ndamu.

Without spoiling the plot for those who have not yet watched the film, the producer said the film looks at how the City of Gold affects the values and principles of the people that live in it.

"Historically, people tend to settle around bodies of water, because in essence ‘water is life’, so why have Joburgers chosen to settle where there is no life?

“The film challenges norms within a romantic relationship, especially within Johannesburg.

“Johannesburg is one of the largest land-locked cities. People came here for gold, so how does a city that’s formed around ‘gold-digging’ then affect the values and principles of the people that live within it?

“How does it affect what they prioritise in their relationships, romantic or otherwise?

“It also challenges gender norms like what we accept within society in terms of perceiving things differently, that are not generally accepted, and makes people sit back and go: ‘Oh, okay, are there other possibilities for me?’”

She hopes the film will open up new perspectives for viewers.

“I think it will be good if it shifts perspectives differently for different people. It does have very specific nuances and intricacies that don’t necessarily sell into your typical romantic drama film stereotypes. I hope that it is well received.

Meanwhile, writer and director Zwo said he has always preferred films that lean towards an authentic experience.

“With ‘Smart Casuals’, we have attempted to create an authentic experience by finding a sense of transparency and vulnerability within ourselves, which we hope has been infused into the film’s DNA,” added Zwo.

Shot entirely on location in Johannesburg, the film captures the various faces of this bustling economic hub where the spirit and drive of the original gold diggers lives on, and where everything seems possible.

∎ “Smart Casuals” is currently streaming on Netflix.

Watch trailer below: