“The Keeping Up with the Kandasamys” franchise has become so popular with Mzansi that it is now critic-proof. And when news of the fourth instalment, “Kandasamys: The Baby”, dropped, fans were over the moon.
Since the home-grown movie was released on the big screen in 2017, where it broke box office records, fans have been heavily invested in the journey of its characters.
And it’s been a journey and then some with plenty of belly laughs along the way.
The first movie centred on the animosity between former best friends Jennifer (Jailoshini Naidoo), who is married to Elvis, and Shanti (Maeshni Naicker), who is married to Preggie (initially played by Rajesh Gopie and then by Yugan Naidoo).
The fact that they are neighbours only fuels the feud between the two.
While Jennifer is on the snooty side and OCD about everything, Shanti is more homely but overbearing.
Unfortunately, the beef spills over into the blossoming love story between Jodi (Jennifer’s daughter), played by Mishqah Parthiephal, and Prishen (Shanti’s eldest son), played by Madhushan Singh.
Thankfully, Aya (Mariam Bassa), a bona fide favourite, offsets the drama with her rapid-fire insults to daughter-in-law Jennifer.
The second movie, “Kandasamys: The Wedding”, focused on the drama around Jennifer and Shanti’s vision for the wedding.
The chalk-and-cheese personalities couldn’t see eye to eye on anything until it came to a boiling point for their unhappy kids.
Of course, it ended well until the next hiccup in “Trippin’ with the Kandasamys”, which saw Jennifer and Shanti becoming thick as thieves once again, especially when their husbands start taking them for granted when all they want is some “quality time”.
As with life, the fourth movie comes full circle as Jodi and Prishen embrace parenthood – or at least, try to do so.
This time around, the proud grandparents and Aya make their way to Mauritius to welcome the latest addition to the family.
True to her controlling self, Jennifer plans an itinerary leaving little room for spontaneity, which doesn’t sit well with the rest of the family.
However, shortly after landing on the island, there are a few changes that take the grandmothers by surprise.
Jennifer is positively fuming to learn that they won’t be staying with Jodi and Prishen, who booked them into a luxury getaway. And the planned sightseeing itinerary goes pear-shaped, too.
And so Elvis and Preggie are left trying to distract their wives to give Jodie and Prishen some breathing space with their newborn daughter.
Of course, Aya doesn’t miss a beat to throw in her two cents at every chance she gets.
As the storyline plays out, the tension heightens with Jennifer being OTT with her criticism of Jodi, including her getting help from her neighbour instead of relying on them.
Shanti is distracted dealing with her youngest son back home in Durban. He has been accused of bullying, which she refuses to believe.
And she also clashes with Jennifer over how best to take care of their granddaughter.
In “Kandasamys: The Baby”, Jailoshini and Yugan share the writing credits with director Jayan Moodley.
Unlike the previous movies, which went full throttle on the comedy, this one adopts a more dramatic tone. It looks at unresolved issues that have been festering with Jennifer, Shanti and Aya, who are forced to accept their respective failings.
Themes of bullying and post-partum depression are addressed as well.
What this movie has done commendably over the years is hold a mirror to real-life struggles. And this movie is no different.
You will laugh, cry and celebrate everyone’s journey. And that’s why it is a must-see family movie whether you are a fan or not.
∎ “Kandasamys: The Baby” is streaming on Netflix.