Love On The Rocks, the novel authored by Andrew Sesinyi and published in 1983 by Macmillan, through their Pacesetters series that spotlighted African writers, is on the make as a feature film.
The turbulent story of how the upper middle class parents of Moradi, one of the characters in the book, fight against her love affair with her man, Pule Nkgogang.
The hero, Pule, is an intelligent man brought up in rural Mmadinotshi, whom Moradi’s urbanite parents consider as a classless no name and, therefore, having no place romancing their daughter.
Flame Power Multimedia CEO, Thuso Oitsile, the movie’s producer, tells Sunday Standard that after actively pursuing the movie rights to Sesinyi’s novel over the last two years, the movie is now in its developmental stage.
“This involves adapting the novel into a screen play for the big screen,” he said, adding, “This is quite a challenge as it means compressing 144 pages of Pule’s childhood and adult life into a film of, say 104 minutes.”
Oitsile revealed that he had also enlisted South African Marina Bekker as chief screenwriter.
Bekker has 19 years of screenwriting under her belt and, most recently, was responsible for creating and writing the mini-series, Death of a Queen for an SABC initiative, Shakespeare in Mzanzi, which has been hailed as the most watched mini-series on South African television.
She is reported to be very excited about Love On The Rocks and believes that the story lends itself to a sweeping love-story that will leave audiences crying and rooting for things to work out for Pule.
Bekker has met Sesinyi, who is to be retained as a consultant to ensure that the story remains intact.
“She is an impressive person, and also engaged in her work,” said Sesinyi.
He says he was approached by a few aspiring producers who wanted to turn his novel into a movie but was impressed more by Oitsile’s efforts.
“He is turning into my mentor,” Sesinyi smiled.
“It would be unfortunate were the film to stray far from the author’s perception of the story,” he says. “For instance, idiosyncrasies that Pule might have, such as eating at table, should reflect his rural background.”
Giving an example, Sesinyi says, “Being an avid birdwatcher, I still often resist the urge to turn my catapult, (that I use for target practice) on the birds because, you see, when I herded cattle as a young boy, birds were a delicacy,” he beamed.
These are the quirks he hopes Pule’s character will retain. Though he appears to identify and is quite passionate about Love On The Rock’s hero, asked whether they have more than rural background in common, Sesinyi was somewhat evasive and, instead, talked about his third novel, Carjack, a book about thieves.
“I am a coward,” he states adding that he has never experienced a thief’s lifestyle. “Writing is about letting you imagination run wild.”
The producer also identifies with Pule.
“That’s my life story too. I, like many other Africans, have moved from the village to town. This makes Love On The Rocks an African story as many will relate,” said Oitsile, who graduated from film school 10 years ago.
Ten years ago, the industry was not very welcoming in Botswana. “Mma Ramotswe has set the scene, making the government and the world aware of Botswana’s potential in cinema,” Oitsile said.
He intends to set the movie in present day Gaborone.
“It will be cheaper, rather than recreating the past from the late 70s and early 80s in which era the novel is based. The movie will be shot in Setswana with subtitles, adding that this “will make it easier to subtitle in other languages”.
“Noting that there are a lot of Batswana who can act, he said he will not take any chances as Love on the Rocks “is my first effort”.
“I will bring in probably two international actors who will help give the movie an international audience,” he said.
Oitsile says his production budget is currently estimated at P20 million, and he will soon start fundraising through pledges and later approach international film funding agencies.
“We have so far secured Botswana Tourism’s help with logistics.”
He said they intend to start shooting next year so that the film will be ready for release by 2010.