Will Muyiwa Ademola regain his (lost) mojo with Gbarada?

Will Muyiwa Ademola regain his (lost) mojo with Gbarada?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 3:58 pm


L-R, Odunlade Adekola, Muyiwa Ademola (standing) and Femi Adebayo

 

By Oladeinde Olawoyin

Olumuyiwa Ademola, perhaps the most promising of the talents thrown up by his generation, should have a new movie out by August. Titled Gbarada, snippets made available from the movie thus far, fascinate. Muyiwa himself occupies a special place in Yoruba film making and, curiously, in anticipation of the release date, I am a tad inspired to scribble a jabberwocky once again after months of hiatus.
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But, a caveat.
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Sometime in 2017, over a decade after its release, I watched Muyiwa Ademola’s blockbuster, OGO OSUPA, and found it quite difficult to watch the same actor on the big screen without shedding a tear for the Yoruba movie industry, the cheekily named ‘Yoruwood’. Of course, Tunde Kelani and perhaps Tade Ogidan have always been there as the consolation in an industry fueled by mediocrity. But there is this necessity to think beyond Kelani; beyond the man and his arts. Perhaps because the cineast is already in his 60s, watching Kelani’s work comes with a certain gloom these days, a mischievous feeling of anticipated loss made more harrowing by the unavailability of a potential heir.

Enter Muyiwa Ademola.

First, there was IYONU OLORUN, a movie that signaled the birth of a rising star. Then came OGO OSUPA, the one shot with a shoestring budget and a huge ambition, dragging the multi-talented actor to the center of our TV screen. By the time Muyiwa would come out with his Magnum opus, ORI, he had already registered his name in the consciousness of every lover of good pictures. And so the release of a Muyiwa movie became a cultural festival in itself, with its attendant buzz and razzmatazz. Then came the downward slide, beginning with ILE, his surprisingly poor response to the blockbuster ORI. With ALAPADUPE, he attempted a comeback but already, and quite sadly, we lost the filmmaker.
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Now to be sure, from IYONU OLORUN through OGO OSUPA to ORI, the pictures weren’t perfect neither was the acting really excellent. The directing, too, needed a touch of professionalism. But it was difficult not to see in Muyiwa and his crew the ambition, the potential, the promise… the future –in the storylines, the twists, the dialogue, the artistic verisimilitude, the fascinating talents of the (largely obscure) cast.
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Sadly, the cineast died, still.
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Yet this loss, really, is bigger than Muyiwa. At the height of Muyiwa’s glory, there were other promising talents: Yemi Awomodu, Bayo Alawiye, and Aishat Kafidipe. Yemi was promising for his mature, almost-clinical directing prowess; Bayo had this impressive facility for rich dialogue, an uncompromising fidelity to unadulterated Yoruba diction even in movies shot outside traditional Yoruba settings; and Aisha, Khabirat ‘Araparegangan’ Kafidipe’s sibling, was renown for her brilliantly intriguing storylines in OGA, IWALEWA and, later, the poorly shot MALAIKA.
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First, we lost Yemi Awomodu to that elusive search for greener pasture and Bayo went silent after a few promising flicks. Aishat, it appears, has been elbowed out of the big screen by moneyed charlatans.
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So when you watch Muyiwa struggle with KAMILU and SANYERI to pull off annoyingly disgusting comedic stunts, one would naturally struggle to connect the image with the man who co-directed APESIN. Here is a man who, a few years back, had the potential of a presidential material struggling for a councillorship seat in a local county.
Again, SMH (shaking my head)!
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People have pushed forward the one cheeky rationalisation: that the madness that saw every sane talent abandon their brains while struggling to pull off comedic stunts was borne out of an attempt to ‘appeal’ to the mainstream market, to give the people what they want to watch — –those brainless, cringe-worthy (non-)comedic flicks that litter the ‘Yoruwood’ space today. Fair one, I would say; only that the explanation, apart from imagining the Yoruba audience as some unthinking humans obsessed with laughter, fails fabulously in its attempt to mask the visionless-ness of its proponents.
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Just like the new set of Yoruwood ‘directors’ who are obsessed with Tura-transforming, fair-complexioned, phantom Oyinbo Peppeyoyo in their movies, there is a way the philistines decide the culture, and indeed, determine what goes around as the zeitgeist. Yet, as Kelani has shown us, there are many ways the visionary creates disruption and sets standards. But when the visionary himself gets derailed, something is suspect: Maybe what we imagined was ‘vision’/‘promise’ at the time was a mere illusion and, perhaps, there was no vision after all.
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Yesterday, a friend, an industry source, told me a few things about Gbarada. Unlike the tens of thousands of mediocre flicks, churned out daily by folks at the Army Arena in Bolade-Oshodi, the movie appears promising. My crazy, neck-breaking schedule notwithstanding, I should scribble one or two things about this new FLICK when I finally squeeze out the time.

Could Gbarada help Olumuyiwa regain his lost charm?

– Oladeinde Olawoyin, a Nigerian journalist, permitted TheNEWS to publish it from his FB page


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