When you head to the cinema and opt to watch a NollyWood movie with a corny title as “Keeping My Man”, you think you know what to expect- especially with a cast that includes Ramsey Nouah, Ini Edo and Monalisa Chinda. What you will discover is that this film neither affirms the viewer’s assumptions nor surprises-it is flat. The cast, though stereotyped with the “romantic drama” toga, actually do their best to make something remarkable and rescue the movie from the free fall it may have been destined for.
Keeping My Man features three young couples, Zion and Tokunbo (Rukky Sanda and Ramsey Nouah); Maya and Rasheed (Ini Edo and Alex Ekubo); and Tamar and Lanre (Monalisa Chindah and Kenneth Okoli) who find themselves on a self discovery journey. Zion and Tokunbo are the envy of the pack- they are adored by the other two and seem to have perfect lives- lovely children, good communication and of course sex pro re nata. Tokunbo dots on his wife and simply cannot get his hands off her. Tokunbo and Zion have no problems. Maya on the other hand doesn’t seem to get the right formulae with her husband Rasheed in the bedroom. He is not into playing dress-up, and kinky sex really isn’t his thing. Her attempts to spice up their two year marriage are failing and her self esteem is taking a hit. Tamar and Lanre are the exact opposite. Tamar is sick of Lanre’s sexual advances. She hates intimacy and it begins to border along pathologic lines. Tamar and Maya look to Zion for help. They want to know how her man is kept.
The movie drags on for some time without much direction. Not that there is no director, but she is also the producer and the script writer. Rukky Sanda, who assumes these three roles, must be commended for this feat. Her movie is replete with squirts of brilliance, but squirts are not waves. The movie falls short of being brilliant for lack of a quintessence. It is not quite there, but it is close. The plot is not defined: there is no suspense; there is no action; and this might disappoint Sanda’s fans, but there was no puzzle to unravel. Ramsey Nouah’s character, Tokunbo didn’t have to do much hiding to be found of his evil. Besides, there were inconsistencies in the mystery surrounding him. His friends (Rasheed and Lanre) act as though they have no clue about his indiscretions when Lanre tries to pick up a girl at a club- Tokunbo declines to join in and emphatically asserts that he will rather go back home to his wife-whereas the same friends tell on him to their respective wives. “Keeping My Man” is not without humor though; a scene where Maya is cuffed to the bed while enduring taunts from Rasheed sends the hall into stifled laughter.
Rukky Sanda tries to write a story easily relatable to the regular Nigerian. Though marital problems especially ones with sexual nuance are common place, the couples featured on Keeping My Man are too rich, too happy, too comfortable and too air-brushed to be real. When normal couples do have problems (if you consider your husband wanting sex all the time a problem); it is more authentic to pray quietly to God to destroy his libido than having the family go see a shrink. If it was an attempt to challenge the norm in order to initiate a kind of behavioral shift, then she deserves praise. There was some talk about children but not one child is shown in the film. It would have been good to see how these problems affect a young child in the home.
Rukky Sanda joins Kunle Afolayan in a rare “amphibious” role of actor and director. Her directorial competence cannot be questioned too much as the actor cum screenwriter cum producer ensured that the other casts were at their best performances. Newcomers, Kenneth Okoli and Alex Ekubo proved to be more than just pretty faces on the screen. They showed the promise that NollyWood has wished for.
The industry is not known for notable dialogue although one was forced to smile when Maya screams, “all I want is what they have”, in trying to get her man to respond to her more, and Rasheed replies with “be careful what you wish for” with a sarcastic grin. Again, Tokunbo spews a line from DMX: “I gave you, you gave me”. The audience may respond with: “I blaze you, you blaze me”.
Nollywood has had its fair share of romantic dramas; whether we remember “Keeping My Man” is left for the history to judge. The movie comes to a close rather unconventionally and this is what is most beautiful about it, the viewer is left to decide the end she wants.