Authentic gangsters of ‘Mayfair’

Award – winning director Sara Blecher says she was “lucky” to have had a great cast and crew for Mayfair, a South African movie that stars heavyweight actors. It features Rajesh Gopie of Keeping Up With The Kandasamys, Jack Devnarain of Imbewu: The Seed and the UK’s brightest, up-and-coming British Indian actor, Ronak Patani.

Mayfair, which premiered at the Durban International Film Festival in July, has been selected for the 62nd BFI London Film Festival, taking place from October 10 to 21. It is set for national release on October 26 and will also screen at this year’s Africa in Motion (AiM), an annual African film festival that will take place in Scotland from October 26 to November 4.

Mayfair tells the story of prodigal son Zaid Randera (Patani), who is fired from his job at a refugee camp and returns home to Mayfair, Johannesburg, where his overbearing father Aziz (Gopie), a businessman and occasional money launderer, is facing death threats.

“Mayfair is one of the most interesting areas of Johannesburg. Through the years, the make-up of the area has changed. However, it still retains its unique character. It seemed a perfect backdrop for a classic gangster story,” said Blecher, who described the cast as a set of “fine actors which made for a relatively easy shoot”.

“In directing this film, I was lucky to have a great cast. Both Jack and Rajesh are amazing actors, who bring enormous gravitas to any role they take on,” she said.

Speaking about showcasing the movie at the BFI in London, Blecher said it was one of the best platforms to do so: “We are very thrilled to be screening at the BFI London International Film Festival. This is a showcase for the very best the world has to offer and Mayfair will be one of nine international premieres at the festival.”

Devnarain plays Jalaal, a long-standing business rival of the Randera family. He described his character as a “dangerous, unscrupulous and manipulative player … He operates as a puppet-master dealing in money, power and blood”.

Devnarain said he enjoyed the challenge of preparing for the role: “I relied on Sara’s image of the character as a dark and calculating man. With that as a foundation, I added his menacing arrogance.”

Durban-born award-winning actor, actor-trainer and playwright Rajesh Gopie said the movie was a “hard-hitting, violent film and I play a bad-a** mafia don, the head of a family ruling with an iron first. To have worked with Blecher, one of the best filmmakers in the country, was an honour”.

Other cast members include Wayne van Rooyen, Ameera Patel and Kelly Eve Koopman. The screenplay is by Neil McCarthy and cinematography by Miles Goodall.