Tag Archives: tradition

Free State of Mind: Andrew Govender Discusses Acting, Tradition, and Religion

Free-State-Updated-PosterThis is the third and final installment of “Free State of Mind”, a series of Q&As with the cast and crew of a South African film currently making the rounds at film festivals. You can read my review here, find out more about its creation from producer Terwadkar Rajiv here, and get some insight on how co-lead Nicola Breytenbach’s prepared for her role here.

Today’s interview is with Andrew Govender, who plays Ravi, the other half of the couple at Free State‘s core. Another former model like his co-star, he began his career at just sixteen-years-old. Being crowned Mr. South Africa in 2012 is only one of his many achievements, which include creating the Andrew Govender Book Club with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and being involved in various awareness campaigns.

Given that their characters share a few interesting parallels Govender answers a number of the same questions that Breytenbach did, with a few that are unique to Ravi himself.


An arranged marriage is the biggest barrier that Ravi faces in his relationship with Jeanette. How would you say he views that tradition and what it means for his future?

I think he respects it and accepts it. He was brought up in a traditional Indian family and those are Indian traditions. However, when he gets to meet his arranged wife he realises that he doesn’t have much in common with her. That’s when he meets Jeanette and falls madly in love. He knows that he shouldn’t be pursuing a relationship with her because it’s illegal during that time for inter-racial relationships. However, he can’t help himself and that results in detrimental consequences.

ravisister

Ravi makes it clear that he’s concerned about his sister’s safety, but what does he ultimately think about what his family does under cover of darkness?

He understands that they are doing it for a greater cause and he respects that. However, he does care deeply for them and doesn’t want anything to happen to them when they go on these missions. He’s close to his family and wants to protect them.

From what I can tell this is your first role in a feature film. How was that experience, especially with it being a South African production instead of a big Hollywood movie?

It was an incredible experience. I got the opportunity to work with some really talented South African actors. I learnt a lot by being on set and having these actors mentor me throughout the filming process.

Our director Sallas de Jager was also really supportive and helped me to give the best performance I could. Even though this was a South African film, the production standards on the movie were really high. That can be attested to with all the international awards that the movie has won. I really hope that I will have the opportunity to work on more films both in South Africa and Hollywood. Acting is really something that I enjoy immensely.

How much did you know about South Africa’s Immorality Acts before signing on to this film?

Not a lot. I grew up post Apartheid, so most of what I knew was from what I heard, not what I could have experienced. It was quite eyeopening to learn more about that time in South Africa’s history and how Indian people were treated. I gathered as much information as I could from my parents about their experiences during that time. I also was really fortunate that my acting teacher had been in an inter-racial relationship and she was able to help me understand my character better.

meditation

Religion plays a large part in Free State for both Ravi and Jeanette’s families. Did you come from a religious background, and did this have any affect on how you played the role?

Yes, I did. I grew up in a conservative traditional Indian family so religion was important to us. My character was also brought up with the same core values and so religion would have been important to him too. There’s a scene in the movie where my character meditates and also seeks relationship advice from a guru. So we are aware that he relies on religion to guide him in the choices that he makes.

A Very Special CWR Chistmas

Well readers, it’s that time of year again. Mildewed jack-o’-lanterns are being unceremoniously swept away from doorsteps as families hang lights and holly around their homes. Carols are beginning to play in stores across the nation and cheery folks, bundled up in their coats, are already beginning to make their lists. The elves and reindeer aren’t waiting for December and so, readers, neither shall I. And let me kick off the holidays here at Culture War Reporters by declaring this:

I hate Christmas.

Generally speaking, I always have.

And my family did celebrate the holidays, with my parents (who make Buddy the Elf look like Ebenezer Scrooge) even making a few luckless attempts at getting me to celebrate advent as well.

I’d say that my mom isn’t as bad, but her holiday tradition is- I make no exaggeration- screaming “IT’S # DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!” at the top of her lungs.

But for all the zeal my parents had I was generally free from the hustle and bustle of the season. One of the benefits of growing up in the middle of a primarily Muslim country is that one isn’t generally blasted with “Carol of the Bells” until one is prepared to put a drill to one’s head.

Coming to America, that was something I had difficulty adjusting to, to put things mildly. But that’s not the issue I have- not entirely anyways.

It was the expectation. Continue reading

There Is Neither Male Nor Female – Rethinking Gender Roles

…And for those of you concerned, Evan has mandated a cut-off for these posts. As important as they are, and as many interesting questions as they raise, there’s only so many weeks in a row we can dedicate to beating a dead horse.

I feel first that I should clarify some of my points in my original response. When I was first drafting it, I was concerned that Kat (who had written a rather personal piece) might take it the wrong way- I’m glad that she gave me the benefit of the doubt on it. Truth is, my issue isn’t with Kat (who I think would agree with most of what I’m about to argue) but with the wider implications of Deschanel’s statements (though there were a few points I take issue with in Kat’s response- but we’ll get to that).

Deschanel argued that “we can be powerful in our own way, our own feminine way“. My response was “No, you ****ing can’t”.

Not “no, you *****ing can’t be powerful”, not “no, you can’t be feminine” (whatever “feminine” means), but rather “no, you can’t have your ‘own feminine way.'”

Why? Continue reading

Talking About Talking About Culture

Reader’s, we here at CWR have been at this for a while.

We’ve made you laugh, we’ve (probably at some point) made you cry, we’ve filled you with feelings of inconsolable rage, and judging by some of the search terms used to find our blog, we’ve done other things to you which we shall never speak of.

You people are into some shameful, ****ed up stuff…

Now with all that said, we’ve only ever defined the blog you’ve come to know and love as being about “figuring out” culture. We’ve never really set any ground rules, and today, I’d like to change that. Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Circumcision

KAT: Greetings girls and boys, today Gordon and I are here to discuss something that I have no personal experience with…: circumcision.

Kitten gifs- because, I’m not going to search for any circumcision-related images.

GORDON: That makes two of us then…

KAT: Circumcision is one of those things that seems to be pretty common here in North America (Gordon aside), but do we really know why it is still common when in places like Europe (for example) few men are circumcised?

Since you’ve already shared your lack of experience with us Gordon, would you mind me asking why your parents chose to forgo the knife?

GORDON: I’m not entirely sure. I avoid discussion my genitals with my parents, but then again, I’m eccentric like that. Continue reading

Fame Day: Christmas Traditions

It’s actually pretty hard to write a Fame Day post for Christmas since it’s now pretty much synonymous with materialism, something that most people agree “eats you from the inside out.”

But dang it guys! I really love Christmas! I love all the lights everywhere draining energy and creating light pollution. I love the repetitive Christmas music on the radio. I love giving and (gasp) even receiving gifts (though I try to only purchase gifts from businesses I feel happy supporting ex. fair trade, local, etc). So much about how Christmas is marketed goes against the things I want to be socially conscious about, and yet I can’t seem to help loving it. I think this probably comes down to the many fun traditions my family has had, and the way the season forces us all to drop everything going on in our lives just to spend time together.  

So I’ve decided that for today’s Fame Day post I’m going to share a few of my favorite traditions, and I would really love if you could tell me a little bit about yours. Continue reading