“It’s a world full of intense emotions,” says filmmaker and producer Mandla N of Mzansi Magic’s brand-new drama series Vula Vala, which airs Sundays on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) at 20:00.

Set in the city of gold, Johannesburg, Vula Vala follows the story of a young man named Mzikayise “Mzi” Mkhize (Khanyisani Kheswa), who arrives from Ladysmith, in KZN, to work in his uncle Bheki’s (Sello Zikala) supermarket wholesaler to make money and hopefully pursue his dream of becoming a soccer star. “But with a past full of skeletons that he doesn’t even know about, becoming a successful player and building a new life will not come that easily for Mzi,” adds Mandla N, who also produced the popular Mzansi Magic prison drama Lockdown.

The first episode of this intriguing drama series kicked off in shocking style with Uncle Bheki being tortured, then executed in a pig stye. It was jaw-dropping cinematics, but that’s exactly how Mandla N likes it. “It is important to keep the viewers in an uncomfortable position, because that is how you keep their attention,” explains the producer.

Watch now on Catch Up

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Show me your number

Vula Vala is a reference to a soccer technique, where a player pretends to kick the ball to fool his opponent into a defensive position and showing the attacker his back – aka showing the attacker the number on his back.

“It’s a twist, almost like you are fooling me by pretending to do one thing but doing something else,” explains Mandla N, which is also something that is prominent in the show. “Twists, turns, flashbacks and surprises are all part of this drama, and it will keep viewers guessing up until the last minute before the shocking truth is revealed.”

And there is no one who will be shocked more that our leading man, Mzi.


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Fix your surname

Mzi is 28-year-old actor Khanyisani’s breakout role in the industry, and he says that he has a deep connection with his character. “His story is my story,” explains Khanyisani. “In 2016, I packed up my life in the township of KwaMashu, north of Durban, and moved to Gauteng to pursue my acting dream and build a new life.”

Mzi is currently also on that path, but he will have to fight to find the truth of who he really is, and who his biological father is. “The name you bare is very important in the African culture,” explains Mandla N. “If you don’t bare the name of your father, your true blood, things will not necessarily work out for you in your life, and you will not overcome obstacles.”

“Mzi needs to fix his surname, otherwise he will keep getting knocked down,” adds Mandla N.


Famous faces

In addition to newcomer Khanyisani, the rest of the Vula Vala cast are the who’s who of SA acting.

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Role model

The legendary Sello Maake ka-Ncube (Malome Thabiso in telenovela The River) plays Bra Rex, a retired soccer player-turned club owner. “He is a ruthless businessman whose past life catches up with him as he tries to revive his soccer club The Scorpions,” says Mandla N.

Bra Rex is also Mzi’s biological father, although neither have a clue of their connection. The only thing they have in common right now is their shared soccer skills.


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Mother of lies

Tina Jaxa (Zinzi in the series Isikizi) plays the role of Bra Rex’s wife, Thembi. She is a woman driven by wealth, success and her need to ensure her family stays on top. “She came to Joburg and worked as a prostitute until she met Bra Rex, who was also in a relationship with Mzi’s mother, Dudu (Patricia Khumalo), at the time,” says Mandla N.

Thembi made sure that Dudu disappeared after she fell pregnant with Bra Rex’s child all those year ago, and since then, Thembi has built herself an empire in the underbelly of counterfeit products, groceries and prostitution. “And she will do anything to keep her empire standing,” warns Mandla N.


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Visionary opportunist

Darlington Michaels, best known for his soapie role as Georgie Zamdela in Isidingo, portrays the role of Gab, a small-time hustler who sniffs out any and every opportunity to make money wherever he goes. “He runs an unofficial gambling ring around the amateur community soccer games,” says Mandla N. Gab is the first to realise Mzi’s talent in Joburg, and introduces him to the community soccer world in the hopes of making a quick buck or two off him.


Watch Vula Vala S1, Sundays on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) at 20:00, Also available on Catch Up

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