Bumight: ‘Doctor Bello’ movie – How NOT to export Nollywood (Y! Superblogger)

Dr. Bello Isaiah Washington

There is no reason why we should be playing out a ghost scene on the top of a mountain – complete with white flurries and agbara nla imagery. 

Early last month, I got asked on a date to the movies. What was unique about this date was the movie was a Nigerian movie which was going to be showing at theaters in the USA. I was excited to go, but I didn’t have my hopes up. I first checked the synopsis of the movie online.

I also looked at the cast. The cast boasted Isaiah Washington, Vivica Fox, Genevieve Nnaji, and Stephanie Okereke, to mention a few. So I allowed myself to hope.

On getting to the movies, we were the only ones in the theater, but we weren’t going to be deterred. To give Tony Abulu credit, the movie started out well. The cinematography was top-notch, the transitions were brilliant, and the audio, as notorious as Nollywood movies are for their horrible audio, was quite okay. However, the New York scenes dragged and dragged, and at a point I found myself wondering when the ‘Nollywood’ part was going to come into the movie.

Isaiah Washington stars as Dr. Durant the emotionally heavily invested doctor of a cancer patient. In his frantic efforts to save his patient, he enlists the help of Doctor Bello, a Nigerian doctor who administers a potion that miraculously cures the boy overnight. The Hospital orders an investigation into this, and Dr. Bello is thrown in jail and falls Sick also with the same ailment. Dr. Durant journeys to Nigeria to get the same potion so that he can save Dr. Bello’s life.

I wish I could say it was the MTN billboard on the screen that alerted me that we were on the Nollywood side of things. Strikingly, things took a turn for the worse. As if on cue, the audio became poor. The music playing in the background drowned out the voices of the actors. The sharp pictures were replaced with blurry lower quality pictures, and it all just went downhill from there.

The story line which was hitherto decent began to show some cracks in it. Without ruining the movie too much for those interested in going to see it, I want to categorically state that there is no reason why we should be playing out a ghost scene on the top of a mountain – complete with white flurries and agbara nla imagery. The story lost its plot towards the middle as there was a haphazard effort to tie the story line together.  In a last ditch effort to save the plot, Dr. Durant falls in love with Genevieve’s Character

A lot of people criticize Nollywood movies for our over indulgence in the fetish, and this movie did not help with that image. There could be other explanations for how Dr. Bello got the healing medicine to heal the cancer patient, but the one that was given in the movie, was just too poor. One can argue that the supernatural is a huge part of our culture, but the movie was set in this generation, and there have been movies like ‘Araromire’ that have successfully tried to highlight the supernatural without being too fetish.

I read that the producer of the movie, Tony Abulu was given a grant with which to highlight and export Nigerian film to the Western world. I don’t think he did a great job. There are so many aspects of the Nigerian culture that can be highlighted with such an opportunity. The movie however came across like another low budget Nollywood movie.

On the positive side, its good to see American actors collaborate with their Nollywood counterparts. The Nollywood stars did not disappoint, as Genevieve shone through the movie, even better than her American colleagues. I hope this opens the door for future collaborations with better story plots.

Movie Review: Doctor Bello

Directed by:Tony Abulu

Rated: PG-13

Rating 2 out of 5 stars



Bumight is a medical doctor based in the US with a special interest in obstetrics and hynecology. She’s equal parts shy and outspoken depending on the situation. She blogs at www.this-is-why-I-write.blogspot.com and tweets from @bumight


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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