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The making of an indigenous language telenovela, Bòròkìní


Three intimate friends are on a collision course as a result of greed, and personal ambitions. The three friends (Olasupo Pinhero played by Yemi Solade, 54-year old lawyer, Deji Lawson played by Antar Laniyan, 56, a geophysicist, and Olaolu Adisa-Martins played by Akin Lewis, 52, an industrialist) are successful and ambitious in their own rights and make fortunes from an oil bloc secured through the help of a mutual friend, Major General Olufemi Araba (Alex Osifo). However, the oil bloc license gets withdrawn by a new government, which pushes the trio to collectively pursue an agro-allied venture that includes food processing and export while pursuing other individual interests.

Driven by passion, regrets and past secrets, the trio finds themselves in webs and chains that they must disentangle from by sheer will and ingenuity. The ripples resonate all round, affecting families and associates. When the die is cast, all the characters will at some point discover the value of loyalty, honesty and truth, and find common grounds, especially when the past begins to catch up with them and skeletons tumble out of closets through the eyes of other characters.

Producer and executive producer, Adeleye Fabusoro said making the telenovela Bòròkìní was informed by the need to up Nollywood’s content capacity in indigenous language film productions, noting, “We also believe that can we can grow the possibilities of ‘appointment viewing’ like we see in Mexican telenovelas (on our screens). Bòròkìní didn’t come as a cinema movie because we hope it will restore the glorious days of local content on television and the story telling pattern is best suited for TV.

“Just like the title Bòròkìní, which basically means the elites has its thematic preoccupation on issue of double standards among the class of elite our society. The story also examines how influential members of the society uses their position, wealth and education to manipulate the poor; it also borders on betrayal, love, adultery and murder.”

Fabusoro added that embarking on the project, which took seven months to complete, was not what was most difficult, but managing over 600 cast members and another 60 crew members was what was most challenging, adding, “The cost of production was a lot and logistics was also unimaginable.”

Director of the telenovela, Mr. Thomas Odia, noted that it felt like directing 120 movies within that same time frame. He noted that with 70 different locations to film in, it showed the passion and dedication that comes with the job.

According to him, “Telenovelas are not like situational comedies where you have certain basic rules you must obey. But in this case, the story guides your sense of directing. The story in Bòròkìní Telenovela is such an interestingly delicate one that is full of intrigues, twists and turns, which, holistically, has great impact on the directorial approach, style and interpretation.”

He noted that directing Bòròkìní was “more of coordinating ideas, thoughts, information, research materials, human capital, machines, and other resources put together in order to attain required standard. It was quite engaging – physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.

Directing 120 episodes at a stretch was indeed a daunting task. At first, it was quite exciting until the chips came down. We had broken the work into four stages. The first stage was very exciting and full of energy. This stage seemed less stressful even though we had challenges. It was quite intense, I must say, but that is where the fulcrum of production rests on the arms of the creative.”

On the style of shoot, Odia said they wanted a particular feel for Bòròkìní in terms of picture, texture, colour and production design and knew it was achievable, but he said he also knew that it would be tedious, painstaking and time-consuming as well.

“What that means in essence is that despite the unstable weather conditions, we would have to battle with lighting difficulties and technicalities of standard cinematography,” he said. “We designed a template that when applied would give the expected picture quality we hoped to get.”He added that some scenes were more technically challenging than the narrative in the script, adding, “A montage sequence that is full of action may take half the time scheduled for the entire day’s work. Some shots may require slow, steady track movements to or from the object in question while some might just be basic hand-held. Filming crowded scenes can be very technical. The court scenes, for instance, were not as easy to shoot as they looked. There were restrictions based on some privileged information we gathered from research and consultation.”

One of the major actors, Laniyan (Deji Lawson), said working on Bòròkìní set was awesome, and described the experience as home away from home. He said he still visited the studio even when shoot had ended. He said every artist was well taken care of during production.“I see every role I play as challenging, so I give it adequate attention,” Laniyan said. “Just like a war that I must win, Bòròkìní is a big project and you don’t handle such production with levity.”

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