29 Jun 2021: 'Jiva!' review: This dance-series is interesting, vibrant yet significant
South African web-series Jiva! is now streaming on Netflix. Created by award winning writer-director Busisiwe Ntintili, the series tells the story of Ntombi, a street dancer, who reaches the conclusion that her dancing talent might put her problems at work, job and in relationships to end. The series boasts of strong music and performances, and is full of energy and life. Here's our review.
Plot: A dance competition that can change the protagonist's life
The series follows Ntombi, a dance-whiz caught in a dead-end job, as she has to support her family after her father died by suicide. She has many problems to tackle, but nurtures her dream to make it big. The story is simple, poignant, vibrant and also gives a message. Apart from stunning dance sequences, it also throws light on the struggle of the community.
Performances: The dance moves will force you to tap your feet
The series has some brilliant performances, especially in the dance department, obviously. Noxolo Dlamini plays Ntombi with ease and panache. She shows perseverance, going against her mother to participate in the competition, and emotes as much with her expressions, as she does with her dance. The supporting caste have limited screen time, but they do possess significant screen presence and celebrate South Arican-culture perfectly.
Production: Focus on dance/choreography takes away from the story
The five-part series, with episodes ranging anywhere between 30-50 minutes, is a treat for House music and dance fans. The makers have put everything to make the dance sequences stunning and choreography impressive with use of camera, light, art direction, et al. But this sadly, at points, takes away the focus from the story and the script meanders leaving character-arches in lurk.
Verdict: A visual treat nonetheless; gets 3/5 stars
With its loopholes and at points shallow writing, the series gives you what it promises: Infectious energy and lots of dance sequences that will put a smile on your face. It also tries to make political and social commentary about the Black community in South Africa, although half-heartedly. This is a must watch if you enjoy dance-movies with a heart. Verdict: 3/5 stars.
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