The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
VETERAN actress Jesesi Mungoshi says she lost 3kg while filming the classic movie Neria, as she tried to go through the rigours of being a widowed woman so as to give a realistic portrayal of the character.
In an interview with online magazine House of Mutapa, Mungoshi said filming for the Neria role had taken its toll on her health, as her desire to portray the character perfectly pushed her to her physical limits.
“I lost about 3kg during filming because I truly experienced the pain and suffering of widowhood. That’s when I met the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi, one of the humblest people I’ve ever met. He played Neria’s brother in the film and was her strength. I bonded with the cast and crew and today I still consider them as family. Many have died now but they still have a special place in my heart.”
The Neria role was career defining for Mungoshi, who is still referred to by the name of the movie’s main character by fans.
“Here in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries, I’m strongly identified with the character I played in the film. Some do not even know my life real name! The film had a tremendous impact. Thirty years later, it’s still talked about like it’s just been released. I will always treasure my memories on that project,” she said.
The actress also revealed that she had decided to persevere with her acting career after encouragement from husband Charles Mungoshi, who did not force her to follow traditional wife duties.
“I’ve always said that my husband was instrumental in my becoming an actress. He was my inspiration. It didn’t matter whether acting was considered a profession for women in Africa. The thing is we were brought up to respect and afford our husbands their place in the home.
When I got married, I expected my husband to lay down the rules because that’s what I had been trained to expect, but he never did,” she said.
Despite disapproval from relatives, Mungoshi said her husband had stood steadfastly behind her.
“He actually laughed when I told him about my expectations. That contributed to me becoming more independent. Of course, not everyone accepted it, especially when it came to in-laws of our time. Mind you, women were not allowed to do things on a national level. But we have evolved . . . I was blessed to have a husband like Charles. He had my back and sometimes had to fight on my behalf because others felt a muroora shouldn’t be doing what I was doing.”