‘Blood Psalms’: Q&A with Bongile Mantsai who stars as Hlengu
Q&A with Bongile Mantsai who stars as Hlengu in the Showmax Original African fantasy 'Blood Psalms' which launches on 28 September.
Bongile Mantsai stars as Hlengu, the second-born son of the chief of the Ku’ua, a nomadic tribe of wandering warriors in the Showmax Original African fantasy Blood Psalms launching on Wednesday 28 September.
In Blood Psalms, the likes of the Akachi and Great Nziwemabwe look down on the Ku’ua for their simple existence. Hlengu longs to return his tribe to their former warrior glory. Although his father, jolly chief Xemantso made peace with the Akachi, Hlengu believes war is the only way.
First, though, he’ll have to find a way to inherit the throne ahead of his level-headed brother, Qotha. But Qotha’s wife, Lala is determined to be queen – whatever it takes.
Blood Psalms producer Layla Swart says the Ku’ua are the forefathers of the Nguni tribes. They’re easy to identify in Blood Psalms.
“The Ku’ua Kingdom is pretty much a leather and skin kingdom,” said costume designer Pierre Vienings
“Their great warriors are bare-chested. We want to show their scarification and their physique, so you understand that these are the great warriors that travel the plains of Africa,” continued Vienings.
Q & A WITH BONGILE MANTSAI
What has been the most challenging part about portraying Hlengu?
“He is a true warrior; he believes in war and fighting. He is constantly defending himself and is always ready to fight. He is very barbaric and intimidating”.
“Whereas on the other hand, I’m naturally a soft and reserved guy – the complete opposite of who Hlengu is. So portraying Hlengu was a fun challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed pushing my limits to bring this character to life”.
Are there any parts of Hlengu you see in yourself?
“Hlengu is a very family-oriented man. He is extremely protective over his family and loves them dearly. He may have a tough exterior and hardly shows affection, but his priority is always his family and his people. We are similar in that way; I’m a family man and very close to my loved ones”.
You’ve worked with Jahmil on projects like Sew The Winter To My Skin and Knuckle City and now on Blood Psalms. What do you think makes you gel so well creatively?
“Jahmil is a great director; he constantly challenges me to push the boundaries. We know each other so well; we have built a strong understanding and trust. He helps in making sure that every character I play is different from the previous characters I’ve played in his projects”.
Talk us through your prep for this role.
“Jahmil took me through the character’s family traits, motivations and flaws. He really got into the background of the tribe and how they fit into the world of Blood Psalms. Jahmil intricately fleshed out each character and that helped me a great deal in getting into character. It was the first time I got so much assistance with preparing for a role”.
“We also did a lot of physical training, including boxing and rigorous boot camp sessions, to get into shape. I thoroughly enjoyed that; it was so much fun! The physical training helped a lot when it came to fully immersing myself into the character”.
What do you think viewers will appreciate about this production?
“The attention to detail throughout the entire production, from the sets to costume and makeup. The storyline is strong, the ensemble cast is brilliant, and there is a cast member or character for everyone to love”.