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Eleshin Oba: A Sticky Picture Of Humour, Power, Women, Honour and Tragedy

By Kofo Tijani
07 November 2022   |   2:19 pm
The Alaafin has died in mid-1940s Oyo but Elesin, the King’s Horseman’s unfettered lust for pleasure, beautiful women and carnal comfort has not only derailed him from subjecting himself to the ritual suicide required to perfect the king’s passing, but his indiscretion has also broken the sacred generational and spiritual bond between the unborn, the…


The Alaafin has died in mid-1940s Oyo
but Elesin, the King’s Horseman’s unfettered lust for pleasure, beautiful women and carnal comfort has not only derailed him from subjecting himself to the ritual suicide required to perfect the king’s passing, but his indiscretion has also broken the sacred generational and spiritual bond between the unborn, the living and the dead, triggering a web of tragic outcomes in a spell-binding historical flick that drips with humour, clash of culture, chaos and death.

Intricately scripted, beautifully directed and superbly performed by a pantheon of seasoned actors, Elesin Oba, an EbonyLife Films and Biyi Bandele feature film stars Odunlade Adekola, Shaffy Bello, Deyemi Okanlawon, Mark Elderkin, Jenny Stead, Omowunmi Dada, Jide Kosoko, Kevin Ushi, and Langley Kirkwood.

Evidently made for the role of Elesin, Odunlade is at his vibrant and sensational best from the outset where he is snuggled in between his many barely clad women on his last day of life. An absolute enchanter, Odunlade’s boisterous and no-holds-barred performance is at the epicentre of all the tragic twists and turns that arise from his failure to remain focused on his appointed day with destiny.

Shaffy Bello’s masterful enactment of the role of Iyalojaoften steals the show. As Elesin’s biggest fan, she supports the horseman with everything he needs to see through his ultimate sacrifice, including acquiescing to his selfish demand for a last day marriage and sex with a woman that is coincidentally betrothed to her own son! Yet, when Elesinfails in the end, she tugs at our heartstrings with extreme emotion as she derides the horseman to his ultimate tragic demise.

Mark Elderkin and Jenny Stead (Simon and Jane Pilkings) are at their comical best when the white imperialist couple,in preparation for the costume ball, thumb their noses at the native religious practices by tangoing in Egungun costumes! Mark is perfect in his cruel, dismissive and pompous performance of Simon, while Jenny shines in herexceptional role as his well-meaning, but sometimes culturally clueless wife.

Deyemi Okanlawon’s performance in the character of Olunde is both credible and flawless. When he returns from England looking all glossy and debonair, he cuts the picture of an imperialist apologist, but his sophisticated denunciation of Mrs. Pilkings when he finds her attired in Egungun costumes, and subsequently the manner of his unsparing rebuke of his own father at the discovery of his catastrophic flop, removes every doubt about his oneness with the sacred customs of his people.

Jide Kosoko (Sergeant Amusa) does his characteristic best to bring out his worst as the overzealous native police chiefwho wants to maintain his loyalty and prove his competence to his white imperialist bosses at the expense of his own people’s customs and traditions.

Impressively conveyed, beautifully filmed and totally engrossing, Elesin Oba is a melodramatic masterpiece. The film has been boldly conceived with an eclectic choice of music, masquerade and talking drum spectacles. Scored by Olawale BrymO Ashimi, the music of Elesin Oba is impeccable, interpreting the sacred, the sacrilegious, the physical and the metaphysical in a pleasing, entertaining and thought-provoking way.

Adapted from an original stage play titled Death and The King’s Horseman’ by Professor Wole Soyinka, Elesin Oba is unquestionably another epic from EBONYLIFE Media, an outfit now squarely fitting into the real global studio model equipped with the capacity to develop and produce a wide genre of films and series. The company’s film credentials range from dramas such as Fifty, Romcoms such as The Royal Hibiscus Hotel and the Wedding Party, soul searching impact thrillers such as Oloture and Blood Sisters, and now to period historical IP pieces such as Elesin Oba.

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