Africa meets India
Zee World has taken their narrative to a whole new level and has added an African flare that unites India and Africa, in an exciting new production. Mehek is the first Bollywood production, which stares an African cast. We caught up with the talented cast at the launch of Mehek as they detailed their entire experience and shared their excitement, about taking African talent to Bollywood.
What was going through your mind when you were cast as one of the first African actors to star in a Zee World production?
Ndaba ka Ngwane
It was exciting and scary at the same time. I was anxious to find out how everything was going to pan out.
It seemed surreal at first, especially because everything happened so quickly and before we knew it, we were flying to India, New Delhi, and shooting for the production.
Seeing that it was your first time in India, was the whole experience a culture shock for you?
Yes! What was quite alarming was how there were so many people and how overpopulated the country is. The streets were always busy, and a lot of activity was happening all at once.
Can you tell us more about your characters?
I play the part of Leleti, who is a very good, loving and nurturing mother. As she is always focusing most of her energy on her daughter, she finds herself wanting to live vicariously through her daughter. She does, however, have an extremely supportive husband.
Personally, I could relate to her relationship with her husband. I too have a supportive and loving husband, and we have been married for several years. I could also relate to the strong and loving relationship she has with her children.
My characters life is turned upside down due to her brothers’ bad decisions. Norah, who is the character I play, goes from being the popular girl in university, to being placed in the middle of India, leaving her life as she knew it behind. She finds herself having to adapt to the new culture and being accustomed to a whole new reality. What I love about her is her honesty and feisty attitude. Her constant need for validation, however, is what I didn’t like about her. Unlike Norah, I am more grounded and firmer in myself and don’t seek approval from others.
I play the part of Dennis; whose wrong decisions lead his family to abruptly move to India. Dennis is a very calm guy, even though his calm nature poses as a disadvantage as people tend to take advantage of him. In the beginning, it was a bit challenging to get into my character but as time went on, I adapted quite easily into my character.
Ndaba ka Ngwane
Eddie is a successful businessman who finds himself having to change his entire life overnight. The sudden change pushes him to re-establish new business relationships, while at the same time ensuring that his entire family is adjusting well. He is the one who tries to keep the family together.
I found preparation for the role quite challenging, everything was happening so quickly. Initially, I would have liked to have had more time to prepare, but within the second week, I was well settled and able to deliver a great performance.
Often actors are their own worst critic, how did you learn to be kind to yourself and appreciate your craft without being overcritical of yourself?
It is very important to be open with your Director. If you feel as if you could have performed better at a scene, be open and communicate with your Director when you feel you could have done better and want to try until you also feel you get it right.
You all seem to have built an amazing off-screen relationship, how did that impact your on-screen performance?
Firstly, being close to each other kept us sane as we were adapting to the culture in India. We had to stick together, especially when you could feel how one was feeling homesick. The relationship we built with each other made it easier to translate that on-screen.
The off-screen bond we built made it easier for us to deliver the tight-knit family bond we portrayed in front of the camera. It made it more real and relatable.
What did the entire experience teach you as an actor? How did it sharpen your craft?
The entire experience enhanced my ability to work under extreme pressure. I am now more confident regarding the high standard of work I want to deliver.
I learned how I can think on my feet all while delivering a great performance in a short space of time. I surprised myself on how quickly I can learn on the spot and memorise my lines within a few minutes.
Ndaba ka Ngwane
I obtained so much personal growth from the entire experience. Being the first in anything often places a lot of pressure on you, but I learned that I can stretch myself and do more. I hope we have paved a way for more African actors to be a part of a Bollywood production.
As someone who had not been acting for close to a decade, being a part of this production helped me grow. I learned a lot from the younger actors and the experience itself made me more confident and I now believe that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Why should the viewers watch Mehek?
Ndaba ka Ngwane
Viewers can look forward to something they have never seen before. They can expect a lot of drama from the very first episode. Viewers will enjoy seeing the blend between Africa and India.
Having an African family which is far from the stereotype of a poor, struggling family will interest the viewers.
Each character in the production goes through different phases in life, making them more relatable for the viewers at home. Viewers will be able to relate to the various characters and find something within a specific character that they can relate to.
Witness all the love, drama and family bonds on Mehek. Make sure you tune into Zee World to catch all the action unfold.