Bovi Ugboma produced his first film, launched last week, and of course it’s a comedy.
We went to the cinemas expecting to be disappointed. We were wrong.
‘It’s Her Day’ is essentially slapstick, but it excels in every single place (and there are several places) that AY’s ’30 Days to Atlanta’ thoroughly failed.
(In which case, we should take a detour and share some home truths to AY: Sir, you are a gifted businessman who has developed some of the country’s biggest comedy experiences, but you need to take responsibility for how bad ’30 Days’ – in scripting and storytelling – was, irrespective of what you may hear from the Guinness Book of World Records.)
The 37-year-old Bovi is a delightful person to meet, to know, and to watch in action as a show. And it’s because he has soul – something genuine, and authentic and thus compelling. He brings all of those qualities firmly to this.
A lot is right about it. The casting (expertly assembled by the venerable Mildred Okwo) for one – led by the incomparable Shaffy Bello (for some reason Najite Dede, usually spot on, struggled to connect). The story itself captures an important slice of the culture at the moment. Its depiction of social media as a pervasive part of our lives is spot on, in a way no other Nigerian film has caught recently.
The story is impressive, because it is layered, because it straddles both comedy and love story with flair, and because it is ultimately believable even where the acting is deliberately over the top.
But, above all else, for slapstick, it has soul. Omoni Oboli doesn’t really impress, but the parts where she shows up and plays up with Bovi have chemistry and poetry. Where he sidles up to her and confesses that she speaks truth, “because it is bitter’ was both an example of excellent scripting and excellent acting.
His groomsmen are a riot. And this is exactly where the casting truly delivers – how they put them together, how they all came through, how they capture the Nigerian ‘squad’ experience (as well as the girl squad thinking and Snapchatting through the entire wedding debacle) is perhaps the stuff of moviemaking magic.
You also have to fall in love with the way the film celebrates made-in-Nigeria brands – Zaphhaire Events, No Surprises Events, Hip TV, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Nigerian comedians and musicians amongst others (though there was a curious spot where we could almost swear they were about to name-drop MAI, but then they teased just enough, and then didn’t).
And Bovi himself. His acting is compelling. His eyes tell a story all of their own. In fact, his eyes stand effectively as a character of their own – conveying alarm, delight, and resignation in equal measure. And when he finally looks at his bride-to-be with all the world’s disdain in the film’s final minutes – even you in the cinema will shudder in fright.
We usually discount for expectation with Nollywood films, and if you must enjoy this one you must discount for its heavy-handed scripting, it’s just-about-basic camera fluctuations, and a number of actors who don’t deserve to be paid.
But for effort, Bovi scores an A. For funny, he scores another A. And for a noteworthy contribution to a steadily growing dashboard of made-in-Nigeria comedies worthy of their name, this is one helluva start.