Catching up with a ‘Kandasamy’

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When it comes to Christmas, Durban actress Mishqah Parthiephal – from Keeping up with the Kandasamy’s fame – considers herself no certified Christmas nut. We find out how the new mom of one and her hubby Tarlan Baker are coping abroad and juggling busy schedules.

As a born and raised Muslim, Mishqah only started celebrating Christmas when she met Tarlan and says she’s slowly learning to play the part. Since moving to the US last year she’s also living it up very differently these days, with all the jingles, festive jumpers and possibly a jolly chilly white Christmas on the cards.

Photo: JoNo Nienaber Photography; Dress: Minty’s Fabrics; Hair: Vickram Singh; Make-up: Warren Killian; Jewellery: Blossom Box Jewelry

Honest, caring, reserved and undeniably beautiful, Mishqah is the essence of what it means to be destined for great things. From TV adverts in her Durban days to award-winning American comedy series, she’s always been committed to captivating storytelling. While in town for the launch of the latest Kandasamys: The Baby, Mishqah talked openly to us about her mild anxiety and having to dig deep to play the role of a mother with postpartum depression, and celebrating her first Christmas in the USA without family.

Mishqah’s passion for the film industry and her commitment to her acting career has seen her dedicate the last seven years, among other things, to her role as Jodi in The Kandasamy’s franchise that has broken box office records. And while it’s been a journey filled with plenty of belly laughs, Mishqah says the latest instalment was tough on her.

Tarlan and Mishqah had no sooner settled overseas when they welcomed their son Jude into the world. Being in another country, Mishqah was not fortunate enough to have her mum and close family nearby to celebrate or help keep her sane.

“Jodi’s postpartum journey was incredibly difficult to play. While I had bad and tired days when I was postpartum with my own son, it was nothing compared to what Jodi went through. It was honestly scary going down that dark path to show the world what Jodi was experiencing.”

Mishqah makes a point of admitting that if it was not for the support of her parents, especially her mum who stepped in and helped take care of five-month-old Jude while she was filming on location in Durban, sans her husband who had work commitments in the States, she would not have been able to successfully fill her role as Jodi.

Mishqah Parthiephal as Jodi Kandasamy, Madhushan Sing as Prishen Naidoo in Kandasamy’s: The Baby. Photo: Netflix © 2023

“After tackling that role and having recently celebrated Jude’s first birthday, I can finally say I’m starting to find my feet in motherhood. This has been one hell of a crazy journey, but he is our greatest blessing, and we know what unconditional love really feels like.”

While she recalls her earliest introductions to dance films and musicals as being exposed – she was five – to her grandmother’s obsession with the film Dirty Dancing, Mishqah says she knew she was hooked when she developed her own teen fascination with Frenchy and Rizzo from the original Grease movie.

“I was kind of serious – in fact too serious,” Mishqah says of her Durban Girls’ High School days. “At most I’d get caught on video fooling around with different South African accents. It was only in my latter school years that I began to view acting as a serious career path for myself.”

Since then the 34-year-old Durban-born and raised actress has landed her derriere not only in leading roles alongside some big international names – including Canadian stand-up comedian Russel Peters in Indian Detective – but also in the director’s chair where she hopes to inspire the world by telling more female Muslim-led stories.

A big fan of the outdoors, especially the beach, Mishqah says her journey with The Kandasamy’s has been about more than just keeping fans heavily invested in the journey of its characters; it has also allowed her to continuously reunite with long-standing friends, spend quality time with her mum, dad and siblings, and do some of her favourite things like cycling or running on the boardwalk before cooling off in the sea – something she used to do every Saturday, all before 7am!

Photo: JoNo Nienaber Photography; Hair: Vickram Singh; Make-up: Warren Killian;

“I travel a lot for work, and now that I’m a mother, Jude goes everywhere I go. He’s still little so it’s easier to travel with him because he doesn’t go to school. If time allows, Tarlan joins us somewhere along the way.

When it comes to Christmas and the holidays, Mishqah says it has always been a special time of year for her in-laws.

“Tarlan loves it too! Since I’ve celebrated only a handful of Christmasses, I’d have to say my best one so far was in 2021, when Tarlan and I hosted it at our home for the first time as a married couple. It was so stressful but so much fun. Last year we celebrated our first Christmas in America and while it was cold and cozy as opposed to Durban’s typical hot and sticky, it was very difficult for us since we were without the rest of our family. We are hoping to look forward to happier, busier Christmases, with some very special visitors in the future, and hopefully made even more special with a dash of snow.”

Outside of film, Mishqah loves to cook for family and friends.

“I’m always trying out new recipes and forcing Tarlan to eat whatever I’ve made, LOL! Every moment we have together is special. It’s cheesy I know, but every activity we plan is for Jude. We love getting takeouts and sitting in the park and letting him run around till he’s spent. We live for making him happy.”

Photo: JoNo Nienaber Photography; Dress: Minty’s Fabrics; Hair: Vickram Singh; Make-up: Warren Killian; Jewellery: Blossom Box Jewelry

Quick-fire with Mishqah

Your go-to beauty secret … I love to oil my hair the night before I have to wash my hair. People usually use coconut or almond oil, but I find those very drying on my hair, so I love using olive oil.

Your best stress tools … I have mild anxiety, so I often have tough days. Meditation and yoga are the only two things that help me get through my day, so that I’m able to be present for my son, husband and the rest of my family.

Holiday downtime … You can unwind during the holidays? I definitely don’t know how to do that! Well that’s what my husband tells me. He’s always saying I need to sit down and do nothing.

The best Christmas gift you’ve received … Santa never visited my Muslim house growing up, so it’s only recent, and it was a pair of headphones. Honestly I didn’t want them, but now I use them almost every day!

The best gift you’ve given … I got my husband a really cool pair of golf shoes.

How will New Year’s Eve be spent … Relaxing at home.

What’s in store for 2024 … My main goal is to get my next short film funded and made. I would also like to take better care of my body. After having a baby, I feel very depleted. So I’m hopeful that I can start making healthier lifestyle choices.

Kandasamy’s: The Baby. (L to R) Madhushan Sing as Prishen Naidoo, Mishqah Parthiephal as Jodi Kandasamy in Kandasamy’s: The Baby. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

About the movie

If you haven’t seen it, Kandasamys: The Baby, is available to stream on Netflix. It kicks off in Durbs and then blissful Mauritius, where Jodi (Mishqah Parthiephal) and Prishen (Madhushan Singh) prepare to welcome their bundle of joy, while dealing with the interference of iconic mom and soon-to-be grandmother duo of Jennifer (Jailoshini Naidoo) and Shanti (Maeshni Naicker).

It’s all lullabies and nursery rhymes until drama ensues with the mom-squad, who join forces, and have brow-raising ideas on how to welcome and raise the new baby. Feathers are ruffled and new traditions are formed, but family Matriarch Aya (Mariam Bassa) distances herself as she has separate plans to enjoy a stunning Mauritian getaway. Loveable granddads Elvis (Koobeshen Naidoo) and Preggie (Yugan Naidoo) take matters into their own hands, once again, as the peace of their idyllic escape from Durban is threatened. With lots of laughs, tears new faces and oh-so-relatable tropes, it is sure to bring you joy.

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