A fairytale re-imagined. A love story told through the ages. A South African fable that is still a reality for most. Mzansi Magic’s new telenovela, Isithembiso, is all of this and more.
Bomb Productions began filming what is set to be one of Mzansi’s most talked-about small screen gems. A modern-day reimagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairytale, Isithembiso is driven by dynamic characters such as Simi (Red Riding Hood), Banzi (the Big Bad Wolf) and Zamani (the Woodcutter) who becomes the rescuer to the damsel in distress.
Isithembiso follows the lives of two young people who come to the City of Gold in search of not just their fortune, but familial ties, opportunity and education. It’s a millennial migrant story that digs deep into the lives of Mzansi youth today, their ambitions, choices and the consequences.
We meet Simi, the wide-eyed innocent maiden from Kwa-ZuluNatal. She comes to the dazzling iGoli in search of her mother and job opportunities. Her path collides with the resourceful Zamani, whose street smarts and swag belie that he comes from a small village in Limpopo.
Through a series of incidents – from chance meetings to destructive choices – their lives intertwine with Banzi, whose “sheep’s clothing” easily deceive the gullible Simi. Whether it’s fate or bad luck, this culminates in an explosive climax that has long-lasting and life-changing consequences.
There are promises made and broken - promises of a better life, a brighter future, greater life choices… Ultimately, the idealistic filter through which the young look at life is ripped off to reveal that “all that glitters is not always gold”.
Will the sheer determination and tenacity of borne out of youth and hope triumph over obstacles and the hard knocks of life?
Industry newcomers Nandi Mbatha (Simi) and Zamani Mbatha (Zamani) are the two young actors central to this evocative telenovela, and are proving to be a force to be reckoned with as they hold their own alongside veterans Hamilton Dlamini (Banzi) and Meshack Mavuso Magabane among others.
Catch Isithembiso when it premieres on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161, in April 2017, to find out!
Full cast list
Nandi Mbatha – You would never guess that Mbatha is a novice actress, as she expertly portrays tragic rural heroine Simlindile “Simi” Ngema, the teenage damsel in distress with an impetuous streak. Simi’s move to Joburg goes pear-shaped from day one, and her fairytale looks set to NOT have a happy ending.
Zamani Mbatha – Rookie actor Mbatha carries his role as Zamani with aplomb. The young good-hearted hero with a hunger and desire to be someone of value, can often be reckless. He is a first-year Mining Engineering student and his heart and good-guy tendencies get him in sticky situations.
Hamilton Dlamini – The award-winning thespian is menacing in the role of the manipulative and ruthless Banzi “The Wolf of Braamfontein” Kunene. His pursuit for power and respect knows no bounds, but his fragile male ego could be his undoing.
Meshack Mavuso – A 20-year veteran of the industry who has acted on most popular shows on the screen and stage, Mavuso plays the even-tempered Kero “The Lion of Pimville” Kunene. The polar opposite of his cutthroat brother Banzi, he is a humble father figure to most of the township youth.
Tebogo Chichi Letswalo – From presenter to actress, Letswalo has paid her dues over the years. As Claudia Kunene, she takes her most challenging role yet. The wife of Banzi, she is a bird in a gilded cage who yearns to be free. She regrets leaving the unassuming Karo for the flashier Banzi, and wants her daughter to learn independence instead of relying on a man.
Tshenolo Seabi – Seabi is a film school graduate who made her small screen debut two years ago, as a presenter of a variety show. She plays daddy’s little princess, Palesa Kunene. She is spoilt, a bit arrogant and desperate to never disappoint her doting dad.
Lemogang Tsipa – With his experience as a character actor in local dramas, Tsipa is well placed to play Bambatha. Young, arrogant and opinionated, he is what has come to be termed a “Clever Black”.
Moneoa Moshesh – From musician to actress, Moshesh pushes herself as the fast-talking, street-hustling Jabulile in Isithembiso. Temperamental and easily distracted, she is a graduate of the “university of life”.
Sboniso Nxumalo – Nxumalo plays Oscar, Zamani’s maternal uncle and security guard at Santa Barbara. All he wants is to save enough money to buy a taxi and quit the security job.
Bongani Maseko – No stranger to playing fearsome gangster characters, Maseko plays club bouncer Khaludja, a gentle giant with an expressionless face who just wants to provide for his family.
Ferieda Metsileng – Newcomer Metsileng plays varsity student Kandy. She is good-hearted girl, demure and conservative. She is everyone’s best friend.
Make a date with exciting telenovela, Isithembiso on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161, from Monday to Thursday at 7:30pm. For more information, follow Mzansi Magic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WeChat.