South African Golf Legend's Life to Be Adapted to the Big Screen

Papwa Sewgolum

A script is being developed about the story of Papwa Sewgolum, a Durban man of Indian descent who played golf outside his native land.

LONDON – The true life tale of South African golfer Papwa Sewgolum, a Durban man of Indian descent who defied the odds and the discriminatory sports codes of apartheid to play golf, is to get the big-screen treatment.

Gauteng-based producer David Selvan is taking the project from writer and director Catherine Stewart to this month's Durban FilmMart.

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Sewgolum, a caddie at a South African country club prevented from playing in his native country in the 1940s because of apartheid, was "discovered" by a German Graham Wulff.

Wulff was playing a round with Sewgolum caddying. After an argument resulted in the young caddie playing a better shot than one of the golf party, Wulff took Sewgolum overseas to play in the British Open.

Sewgolum went on to win the Dutch Open three times during the 1960s.

Selvan, along with Stewart and exec producer Georgina Hamilton, are gathering information about the golfer, born in 1930 in South Africa, and have made a public appeal.

"Since all great films rely first and foremost on the script, we have to get this right before we can go into the next stage. We would particularly welcome any information from individuals who knew Papwa personally because we would very much like to know as much as possible about Papwa the person,” said Selvan.

The filmmakers have sourced material from South African High-Court judge Christopher Nicholson's biography Papwa Sewgolum: From Pariah to Legend.

They also have received support and contributions from Sewgolum's son, Rajen Sewgolum, also a seasoned golfer.

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Selvan said the aim would be to cast a Bollywood star to play the golfer.

"Papwa could have been a world famous golfer but for Apartheid -- he beat Gary Player, who was known to be the best golfer in the world," Selvan said. "He had an extraordinary talent and was an inspirational figure; a person who succeeded despite his very humble background. This is therefore both a personal and a historically significant story."

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