Rich boy falls in love with poor girl. Check. Tortured romance. Check. Truth doesn’t come out easily. Check. Dangerous infatuation. Check. While Selina has all the tropes of a classic Mexican telenovela – the kind that has our blood boiling with every episode – it boasts an advantage its Mexican competition doesn’t have. It’s a Kenyan story; a Swahili telenovela that’s not here to just check boxes. Instead it’s making a statement that a Swahili show can captivate the masses and command a following just as huge and as dedicated as other popular shows.
Selina is that powerful. In its 16-month existence (it premiered in January 2018 on Maisha Magic East), this telenovela has created a fandom so immersed into its storyline, they could barely hold their emotions after the big episode last week. Suffice to say, Selina has crushed more hearts than any Kenyan TV show out there. But since I am not the one to spoil, just know that in there was a wedding that involved our tortured love triangle of Selina, Nelson and Biko and now team #Selison is heartbroken.
Selina is adapted from the original story written by Bollywood’s Vivek Bahl, and is directed by Reuben Odanga. He says the adaptation process of Selina is intense, adding that while they seek to be true to the original concept, the team behind Selina keeps changing a lot of things because Kenya’s culture, context and budgets are very different from the original writers’ world.
Team Biko vs Team Nelson
Celestine Gachuhi plays the eponymous role of Selina, alongside Pascal Tokodi who plays Selina’s love interest Nelson Mackenzie – an onscreen romance that started the #Selison movement and turned keyboard-happy fans into matchmakers.
Watch Gachuhi and Tokodi serenade each other during an interview with Showmax
But a telenovela as popular as Selina deserves an even greater villain – perhaps even lovable and he comes in Biko (Peter Kamau), the other man after Selina’s heart. Biko, like the smug dimpled antagonist he is, has his own brand of meanness that can be composed just as easy as it can be triggered. It’s a portrayal that has earned Kamau comments like this on his Instagram page, especially after recent episodes of Selina that broke many hearts.
One fan wrote: “I hope you repent after acting because the pain and heartbreak you cause us may come back to you. God sees each tear we shed…”
If you haven’t started already, Selina is a show worth every bit of your time. And with new episodes dropping weekly on Showmax in June, you no longer have a reason to be left behind.
Even better, the unforgiving Nairobi winter is here so this is the perfect time to cancel those plans, mute your phone, stay indoors and sink deep into binge-watching Selina. One more thing, please remember to keep snacks at arms’ length and bring a stress ball, you will need it.
May the Selina binge begin, catch new episodes which land on Showmax from Thursday 6 June.