ThePingOfPong

Pieces on Film, Prose and Music by a Nigerian

Month: May, 2014

HOW NOT TO KEEP A MAN: DISCUSSING SANDA’S KEEPING MY MAN

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

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.

 

Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

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WHO THE GODS WANT TO KILL: REVIEWING AFOLAYAN’S FIGURINE

Kunle Afolayan’s Figurine (subtitled: Araromire)seeks to change cinema culture in Nigeria- he wants viewers to think about film not just see it.

Figurine begins with a prologue on goddess, Araromire:  For seven years she blesses those who touch her statue with prosperity and fruitfulness; there is rain, plenty of harvest and the people are fruitful. The snag is she withdraws all her blessings, and brings despair and hardship for an additional seven years when the pleasantries are over.  Figurine somewhat modifies Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream about Egypt from the bible. Figurine is however not an adaptation of the bible story, it is something sinister…The Figurine

Sola Fajure (Kunle Afolayan), Femi (Ramsey Nouah) and Mona (Omoni Oboli)are the major characters featured in Figurine. The trio are former University mates caught up in a bizarre love triangle that develops into a grotesque revelation of human behavior. All three are posted to Araromire (a mysterious town named after the goddess) for their National Service. During an endurance trek, Femi and Sola come in contact with some artifacts in a shrine. Unwittingly, they have opened “Pandora’s box” and set in motion a cascade of events.  It was the year 2001 and the seven year clock begins to tick…

We are moved in time to 2007; Sola and Mona are married with a son and another baby is on the way. They are rich and happy. Femi is also well off. He has had a very impressive run in his company. His respiratory problems have vanished, his father’s cancer has gone into recession and he doesn’t use his glasses anymore.  The three meet again after a seven year separation at a party hosted by Sola and Mona. Femi’s feelings for Mona is evident even after seven years and he seems not to be interested in any other woman, not even the forceful but delectable Ngozi played by Funlola Aofiyebi.

The Yoruba language spoken sometimes in the movie helped create a certain level of realism. The characters spoke Yoruba to themselves in private and reverted to the English language for more formal conversations as regular people would in real life. This level of detail would ensure a wider audience watches Figurine.

The movie shifts to second gear when Mona visits her college history professor where she recognizes a picture of Araromire from a text of the figurine in her husband’s study. The Professor relays to her the myth surrounding the seven years of good and evil.  Something doesn’t feel right by her. She starts to worry and then begins to piece information together; the sudden wealth and prosperity in career and family begin to make sense. Mona admits to Femi in a private meeting that she and Sola had lived a charmed life for seven years.

By now, Afolayan knows he has the viewer’s attention.  At this stage, because we know the seven years of prosperity are up, we anticipate calamity. We expect equilibrium and normalcy restored.  Femi’s charactermakes this possible and sends the movie into third gear. The viewer begins to think… He does not picture murder and obsession in Femi’s personality. He certainly doesn’t fit the profile of a psycho killer who orchestrates a fourteen year plan.

Afolayan doesn’t leave us wondering, he shows us Femi’s motive and intent. Like a good story teller, he shows as well as he tells. The viewer begins to understand (and probably accept) Femi’s actions in reclaiming the love of his life.  After all, “all is fair in love and war”.

Figurine ends with the question: what do you believe? The intention is clear though- Afolayan set out to make a mystery movie that engages the viewer.

On one hand, it is said: “who the gods want to kill they first make mad”. So it is possible that Femi was a pawn in the hands of Araromire and therefore we may conclude that Araromire set the tone for the love affair and the convergence at the Youth Camp just to destroy them. On the second hand everything could have happened by sheer coincidence.

Viewers of Figurine: Araromire will leave the cinema neither happy nor sad. They will ask themselves questions, thus fulfilling what Afolayan set out to do: make us think.

 

Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

 

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