Opinion: Nollywood: Lights, cameras, and no action

byDemola Rewaju

Set of a Nollywood movie

Confession: I hate ‘English’ Nollywood movies. The diction is entirely selected and used only to insult anyone who has a half-decent command of the language. Pronunciations in Nollywood are usually forced, with stressed and unstressed syllables jumbled up. If the director is good and corrects the thespian often, the actor becomes conscious and makes even greater efforts with much discomfort to speak fluently…and this comes across all too clearly to the viewer. And as if the ‘English’ isn’t fake enough, the setting usually seems too exotic and I wonder how many of us who view these movies live our lives like that.

Yoruba movies interest me only because they speak the language with the ease of a natural speaker but the plot is often too watery and I find the use of flashbacks and suspense too prosaic to add any value to the movie. Tunde Kelani makes much sense but its becoming easier to flaw his movies these days. I found a rising star in Kunle Afolayan but the plot of ARAROMIRE (THE FIGURINE) just went awry at the end.

If you have never watched a Hausa movie, please do so this week. Their subtitles are better than Yoruba movies to start with and the acting is unbelievably professional…unbelievable for some that is but I’ve always known that the Hausas have the best actors. I grew up watching Behind the Clouds, Mirror in the Sun, Cock-crow at Dawn, Riddles and Hopes etc that had great actors such as Sadiq Daba, Matt Dadzie, Gladys Dadzie, Zack Amata etc, all from the Jos axis of the thespian world. Acting these days relies more on your physical ability to sell movies via posters especially if you have the right curves and can give the producer a nice time…in bed.

I need to say this though: I respect an industry that grew from low budget (and lowly planned) movies into a major export from Nigeria to the rest of Africa and the world. These guys work in amazing conditions (often powered only by small generators and abundant hope) yet manage to produce movies that are celebrated by hundreds of thousands…but rarely impress me. If you remember watching Kenneth Okonkwo star in the movie ‘LIVING IN BONDAGE’, you would see how far this industry has come.

Our South-African cousins have long left us behind in movie-making though. Those born in the 80s would remember the movie ‘SARAFINA’ which starred Whoopie Goldberg. But with the death of apartheid, they seem to have run out of story-lines and are too professional to resort to the watery plots of Nollywood so they produce exceptional movies only once in a while.

Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of Nollywood are the movie titles but only two will suffice for me to mention: BLACKBERRY BABES and 2GO BABES…seriously: how unimaginative can these guys get?

I must confess my love for the Nigerian theatre because of the tense atmosphere borne of the risk of an actor forgetting his lines. That’s why I’m usually the first to start the applause at Terra Kulture, Wale Oguntokun’s chosen house of drama.

Scene from a Yoruba movie

 

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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