Director: Simon Mukali
Writer: Natasha Likimani
Cast: Denzel Odhiambo, Liz Njagah, Rugene Mike, Conrad Makeni.
Finally, the (in)famous miraa pick-ups from Meru made it to the silver screen! Another Kenyan legend immortalised by a film and this is one of the reasons I loved this film, and they did well too to begin the film with the scene of a miraa pick-up being loaded up. That scene with everyone shouting for the rope to be passed, the driver tapping his door impatiently and the vehicle being shook from side to side to accomodate more sacks, then the pick-up zooming off at great speed along the highway, the traffic police hurriedly rermoving their barriers from the road and tipping their hats as the truck flies by while the camera moves fast to accentuate the urgency was ingenious. It captured a part of Kenya that most only hear about and has been the root of a local simile – as fast as a miraa pick up, as well as set the tone for the rest of the film.
Veve is Sheng (slang) for Miraa/ Khat, a stimulant leaf stem grown in Meru County and very popular there. Veve, set mostly in Maua, Meru County is a story about the struggle for better lives, revenge, political anarchy and the power of love.
Denzel Odhiambo is Amos Munene, a ruthless corrupt and ambitious MP who is pretty much used to having his way. His carrot-and-stick tactics on the veve farmers that gets him to buy produce at extremely low prices is not working and they are planning to start a union. This doesn’t seem like a good idea to Amos and he shifts tactics to cruel intimidation to get the farmers to stay in line. His wife, Esther (Liz Njagah), discovers that he is cheating on her and there is an attempt on his life by Kenzo (Rugene Mike) over past injustices. The busines conflict with Wadu, who flies his Miraa abroad is also getting increasingly vilolent. Amos is, on all fronts, a beseiged man and he has only one person to trust, Sammy (Conrad Makeni), his right hand man, who owes him a lot after he saved him from the streets, but when everything hits the fan and Sammy has to choose between saving Amos or his chokoraa son, who will he choose?
Departing from the tradition of other One Fine Day/Ginger Inc films, quite a raw image has been employed in Veve maybe to give it a more ‘real’ look and the cinematography was way above par. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Esther finds out that Amos is cheating on her when she reads the text on his phone.
The play on the mirrors such that she is moving in one direction and coming out on the opposite side then showing both her and her image captured articulately the torment and confusion that was going inside her at that moment. The actor that plays Kago, and the make-up crew that worked on him get my thumbs way up. That was so believable. The only unanswered questions were about Clint, who is he?, where does he come from?
If for no other reason, I love this film for the way it gives us Kenya- the people and the culture. Totally unforgetttable!
Veve will start screening on the 5th of September.