If you grew up in the village, then you are not new to stories where hotblooded youngsters overcame all odds to be with those they loved. Your grandparents and parents have probably regaled you in tales of illicit love where their folks were against their union, and they took extreme measures to ensure the youngsters don’t ‘bring shame’ to their families. In Kikuyu, that is direct translation for ‘Kureehe thoni.’ And in the same spirit, the youngsters took extreme measures to ensure their love wasn’t snuffed out. Love was brewed in thickets, in abandoned shacks, by river beds, behind rusty old trucks, in caves, on trees, under trees, against trees, even inside trees! Gatarashaine is a short film which premiered earlier today, where good old love encounters the wrath of Baba (pronounced Faafa!) but as they say, love always triumphs!
Prevail Arts Company Kenya is better known for their exploits on stage, where they have a proven track record of producing quality theatre shows, and have used their Prevail Beeyond Entertainment channel on YouTube to test their film mettle. The film, written, directed and produced by thespian Martin Kigondu, and shot and edited by Jackson Kang’ethe, follows two love birds who can’t keep their hands off each other but the girl’s dad always seems to catch them in the act. Their pursuit of intimacy at the girl’s home ends up in comic chaos as Baba arrives home to catch them in the act, with the randy youngster having to orchestrate a nervy escape, though he doesn’t escape a heavy slap in the back from the irate father. Their quest for intimacy leads them to the bridge near their home, where they reminisce how they met.
Njeri, the lass, played by Kanini Edith, was on a matatu where the lad, played by Collins ‘Ayrosh’ Irungu, was the tout and couldn’t pay her fare, calling her dad, played by Stephen Kimani, to bail her out. One thank led to another and now they can’t stop thanking each other! Daredevil Njeri suggests they get down on the bridge, to which the lad agrees. But alas, the dad alights from a matatu, and as he is walking home near the bridge, spots a familiar scarf, and a quick inspection reveals the two youngsters canoodling in the nearby bush, with Njeri’s neck the subject of intense inspection by the lad’s tongue! As expected, the dad goes after the lad, clearly upset by the fact they chose to do it, of all places, Gatarashaine!
Technically, one of the film’s stand out features is its simple and natural approach to production design. The village set up adds to the care-free and happy go lucky attitude of these two lovebirds, with the natural vegetation by the bridge creating the perfect backdrop for this naughty village romance. The bold choice of shots contributes to the emotional tone of this film, as well as the catchy score, which has been done by the lead actor. The editor should be commended for weaving together all these elements to tell a beautiful story that leaves you wondering what next for this randy duo. Irungu, Kanini and Kimani should also be lauded for giving life to the script on screen, and the use of Kikuyu and Sheng interchangeably also does no harm in endearing the film to its target audience. Most parents will no doubt squirm when watching this with their teenage kids, but will undoubtedly be smiling inwardly as they remember their own wild exploits at that age.
The film’s lead actors are clearly young adults, but one can’t help but wonder what is happening now amongst school going children in the villages during this enforced long holidays. Various media outlets have reported an alarming number of teenage pregnancies during this Covid-19 period, and you have to wonder how the thousands of idle teens in the country are coping, what with raging hormones and that rebellious streak synonymous with this age group. The community leaders should probably find ways to arrest this situation, because seeing the young adults go at it like bunnies in the village will definitely not help matters. That being said, Gatarashaine is a beautiful piece of work that will get you pumped as you imagine the possibilities!